Characterising the brain metalloproteome in Down syndrome patients with concomitant Alzheimer's pathology
Down syndrome (DS) is a common intellectual disability, with an incidence of 1 in 700 and is caused by trisomy 21. People with DS develop Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like neuropathology by the age of 40. As metal ion dyshomeostasis (particularly zinc, iron and copper) is one of the characteristics of AD and is believed to be involved in the pathogenesis of disease, we reasoned that it may also be altered in DS. Thus, we used inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry to examine metal levels in post-mortem brain tissue from DS individuals with concomitant AD pathology. Size exclusion-ICPMS was also utilised to characterise the metalloproteome in these cases. We report here for the first time that iron levels were higher in a number of regions in the DS brain, including the hippocampus (40%), frontal cortex (100%) and temporal cortex (34%), compared to controls. Zinc and copper were also elevated (both 29%) in the DS frontal cortex, but zinc was decreased (23%) in the DS temporal cortex. Other elements were also examined, a number of which also showed disease-specific changes. The metalloproteomic profile in the DS brain was also different to that in the controls. These data suggest that metals and metal:protein interactions are dysregulated in the DS brain which, given the known role of metals in neurodegeneration and AD, is likely to contribute to the pathogenesis of disease. Interrogation of the underlying cellular mechanisms and consequences of this failure in metal ion homeostasis, and the specific contributions of the individual DS and AD phenotypes to these changes, should be explored.