44 Scopus citations


Background: Multiomic studies by several groups in the NIH Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Alzheimer's Disease (AMP-AD) identified VGF as a major driver of Alzheimer's disease (AD), also finding that reduced VGF levels correlate with mean amyloid plaque density, Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) and Braak scores. VGF-derived peptide TLQP-21 activates the complement C3a receptor-1 (C3aR1), predominantly expressed in the brain on microglia. However, it is unclear how mouse or human TLQP-21, which are not identical, modulate microglial function and/or AD progression. Methods: We performed phagocytic/migration assays and RNA sequencing on BV2 microglial cells and primary microglia isolated from wild-type or C3aR1-null mice following treatment with TLQP-21 or C3a super agonist (C3aSA). Effects of intracerebroventricular TLQP-21 delivery were evaluated in 5xFAD mice, a mouse amyloidosis model of AD. Finally, the human HMC3 microglial cell line was treated with human TLQP-21 to determine whether specific peptide functions are conserved from mouse to human. Results: We demonstrate that TLQP-21 increases motility and phagocytic capacity in murine BV2 microglial cells, and in primary wild-type but not in C3aR1-null murine microglia, which under basal conditions have impaired phagocytic function compared to wild-type. RNA sequencing of primary microglia revealed overlapping transcriptomic changes induced by treatment with TLQP-21 or C3a super agonist (C3aSA). There were no transcriptomic changes in C3aR1-null or wild-type microglia exposed to the mutant peptide TLQP-R21A, which does not activate C3aR1. Most of the C3aSA- and TLQP-21-induced differentially expressed genes were linked to cell migration and proliferation. Intracerebroventricular TLQP-21 administration for 28 days via implanted osmotic pump resulted in a reduction of amyloid plaques and associated dystrophic neurites and restored expression of subsets of Alzheimer-associated microglial genes. Finally, we found that human TLQP-21 activates human microglia in a fashion similar to activation of murine microglia by mouse TLQP-21. Conclusions: These data provide molecular and functional evidence suggesting that mouse and human TLQP-21 modulate microglial function, with potential implications for the progression of AD-related neuropathology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalMolecular Neurodegeneration
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Jan 2020


  • Alzheimer
  • C3aR1
  • Complement
  • Microglia
  • TLQP-21
  • VGF


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