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Currently, more than 55 million people around the world suffer from dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) accounts for nearly 60–70% of all those cases. The spread of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) pathology and progressive neurodegeneration in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex is strongly correlated with cognitive decline in AD patients; however, the molecular underpinning of ADRD’s causality is still unclear. Studies of postmortem AD brains and animal models of AD suggest that elevated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress may have a role in ADRD pathology through altered neurocellular homeostasis in brain regions associated with learning and memory. To study the ER stress-associated neurocellular response and its effects on neurocellular homeostasis and neurogenesis, we modeled an ER stress challenge using thapsigargin (TG), a specific inhibitor of sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA), in the induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neural stem cells (NSCs) of two individuals from our Mexican American Family Study (MAFS). High-content screening and transcriptomic analysis of the control and ER stress-challenged NSCs showed that the NSCs’ ER stress response resulted in a significant decline in NSC self-renewal and an increase in apoptosis and cellular oxidative stress. A total of 2300 genes were significantly (moderated t statistics FDR-corrected p-value ≤ 0.05 and fold change absolute ≥ 2.0) differentially expressed (DE). The pathway enrichment and gene network analysis of DE genes suggests that all three unfolded protein response (UPR) pathways, protein kinase RNA-like ER kinase (PERK), activating transcription factor-6 (ATF-6), and inositol-requiring enzyme-1 (IRE1), were significantly activated and cooperatively regulated the NSCs’ transcriptional response to ER stress. Our results show that IRE1/X-box binding protein 1 (XBP1) mediated transcriptional regulation of the E2F transcription factor 1 (E2F1) gene, and its downstream targets have a dominant role in inducing G1/S-phase cell cycle arrest in ER stress-challenged NSCs. The ER stress-challenged NSCs also showed the activation of C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP)-mediated apoptosis and the dysregulation of synaptic plasticity and neurotransmitter homeostasis-associated genes. Overall, our results suggest that the ER stress-associated attenuation of NSC self-renewal, increased apoptosis, and dysregulated synaptic plasticity and neurotransmitter homeostasis plausibly play a role in the causation of ADRD.


© 2024 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Office of Human Genetics



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