The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Cofilin aggregation may contribute to neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease

Gong Chen and graduate students Joseph Cichon and Chicheng Sun — working with researchers from Fudan University in Shanghai, China — identify a signaling pathway and roles of cofilin rods that may underlie neurodegeneration and brain aging.
Cofilin rods form in distal dendrites.

Cofilin rods form in distal dendrites.

By: Seth Palmer


Cofilin rods are associated with Alzheimer's disease, but until now their pathological significance has been unclear.


This study by Cichon et al. employed time-lapse imaging of rat hippocampal cultures to reveal that cofilin rods disrupt dendritic microtubule integrity, inhibit the movement of mitochondria and early endosomes, reduce dendritic spines and impair synaptic transmission.


The authors found that cofilin rods block intracellular transport and induce synaptic loss — with an inverse relationship between the number of synaptic events and the accumulation of cofilin rods in dendrites — concluding that cofilin aggregation may contribute to neurodegeneration and brain aging, with the presence of cofilin rods serving as a common pathological marker for early stages of neurodegeneration.

Publication details

  • Cichon J
  • Chen B
  • Jiang M
  • Sun Y
  • Wang Y
Cofilin aggregation blocks intracellular trafficking and induces synaptic loss in hippocampal neurons
Journal of Biological Chemistry 287:3919-3929