Background: Microglia, the brain's principal immune cell, are increasingly implicated in Alzheimer's disease (AD), but the molecular interfaces through which these cells contribute to amyloid beta (Aβ)-related neurodegeneration are unclear. We recently identified microglial contributions to the homeostatic and disease-associated modulation of perineuronal nets (PNNs), extracellular matrix structures that enwrap and stabilize neuronal synapses, but whether PNNs are altered in AD remains controversial.
Here, Nestler and Lüscher link addiction circuits to epigenetic mechanisms that are engaged by drug exposure or reflect life experience. These molecular alterations may not only explain the basis of drug-evoked synaptic plasticity, but may also help understand individual addiction vulnerability.
Altered synaptic structure and function is a major hallmark of fragile X syndrome (FXS), autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), and other intellectual disabilities (IDs), which are therefore classified as synaptopathies. FXS and ASDs, while clinically and genetically distinct, share significant comorbidity, suggesting that there may be a common molecular and/or cellular basis, presumably at the synapse.