Synaptic mitochondrial dysfunction and septin accumulation are linked to complement-mediated synapse loss in an Alzheimer’s disease animal model

Balázs A. Györffy, Vilmos Tóth, György Török, Péter Gulyássy, Réka Kovács, Henrietta Vadászi, András Micsonai, Melinda E. Tóth, Miklós Sántha, László Homolya, László Drahos, Gábor Juhász, Katalin A. Kékesi, József Kardos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Synaptic functional disturbances with concomitant synapse loss represent central pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Excessive accumulation of cytotoxic amyloid oligomers is widely recognized as a key event that underlies neurodegeneration. Certain complement components are crucial instruments of widespread synapse loss because they can tag synapses with functional impairments leading to their engulfment by microglia. However, an exact understanding of the affected synaptic functions that predispose to complement-mediated synapse elimination is lacking. Therefore, we conducted systematic proteomic examinations on synaptosomes prepared from an amyloidogenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease (APP/PS1). Synaptic fractions were separated according to the presence of the C1q-tag using fluorescence-activated synaptosome sorting and subjected to proteomic comparisons. The results raised the decline of mitochondrial functions in the C1q-tagged synapses of APP/PS1 mice based on enrichment analyses, which was verified using flow cytometry. Additionally, proteomics results revealed extensive alterations in the level of septin protein family members, which are known to dynamically form highly organized pre- and postsynaptic supramolecular structures, thereby affecting synaptic transmission. High-resolution microscopy investigations demonstrated that synapses with considerable amounts of septin-3 and septin-5 show increased accumulation of C1q in APP/PS1 mice compared to the wild-type ones. Moreover, a strong positive correlation was apparent between synaptic septin-3 levels and C1q deposition as revealed via flow cytometry and confocal microscopy examinations. In sum, our results imply that deterioration of synaptic mitochondrial functions and alterations in the organization of synaptic septins are associated with complement-dependent synapse loss in Alzheimer’s disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Complement C1q
  • Fluorescence-activated synaptosome sorting
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Septins
  • Synaptic pruning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology

Cite this

Györffy, B. A., Tóth, V., Török, G., Gulyássy, P., Kovács, R., Vadászi, H., Micsonai, A., Tóth, M. E., Sántha, M., Homolya, L., Drahos, L., Juhász, G., Kékesi, K. A., & Kardos, J. (Accepted/In press). Synaptic mitochondrial dysfunction and septin accumulation are linked to complement-mediated synapse loss in an Alzheimer’s disease animal model. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences.