Intracerebral injection of brain extracts containing amyloid or tau aggregates in transgenic animals can induce cerebral amyloidosis and tau pathology. We extracted pure populations of tau oligomers directly from the cerebral cortex of Alzheimer disease (AD) brain. These oligomers are potent inhibitors of long term potentiation (LTP) in hippocampal brain slices and disrupt memory in wild type mice. We observed for the first time that these authentic brain-derived tau oligomers propagate abnormal tau conformation of endogenous murine tau after prolonged incubation. The conformation and hydrophobicity of tau oligomers play a critical role in the initiation and spread of tau pathology in the naïve host in a manner reminiscent of sporadic AD.
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