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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 7969272, 19 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/7969272
Review Article

Emerging Link between Alzheimer’s Disease and Homeostatic Synaptic Plasticity

1Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
2Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

Received 14 December 2015; Accepted 31 January 2016

Academic Editor: Victor Anggono

Copyright © 2016 Sung-Soo Jang and Hee Jung Chung. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an irreversible brain disorder characterized by progressive cognitive decline and neurodegeneration of brain regions that are crucial for learning and memory. Although intracellular neurofibrillary tangles and extracellular senile plaques, composed of insoluble amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides, have been the hallmarks of postmortem AD brains, memory impairment in early AD correlates better with pathological accumulation of soluble Aβ oligomers and persistent weakening of excitatory synaptic strength, which is demonstrated by inhibition of long-term potentiation, enhancement of long-term depression, and loss of synapses. However, current, approved interventions aiming to reduce Aβ levels have failed to retard disease progression; this has led to a pressing need to identify and target alternative pathogenic mechanisms of AD. Recently, it has been suggested that the disruption of Hebbian synaptic plasticity in AD is due to aberrant metaplasticity, which is a form of homeostatic plasticity that tunes the magnitude and direction of future synaptic plasticity based on previous neuronal or synaptic activity. This review examines emerging evidence for aberrant metaplasticity in AD. Putative mechanisms underlying aberrant metaplasticity in AD will also be discussed. We hope this review inspires future studies to test the extent to which these mechanisms contribute to the etiology of AD and offer therapeutic targets.