Approximately 5 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimers disease (AD) a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive impairment of cognitive function and emotional and sleep disturbances. This laboratory has developed cell culture and mouse models of AD, and have used these models to elucidate the biochemical and molecular events responsible for neuronal dysfunction and death in AD. Our findings suggest that during aging neurons become increasingly prone to dysfunction as a result of impaired cellular energy metabolism and destabilization of calcium-regulating systems. Amyloid beta-peptide can exacerbate these age-related changes in neurons resulting in their degeneration and consequent cognitive deficits. Membrane lipid peroxidation appears to play an important role in amyloidogenic processing of the amyloid precursor protein as the lipid peroxidation product 4-hydroxynonenal covalently modifies the protein nicastrin and thereby increases gamma-secretase activity. We have also found that redox enzymes in the plasma membrane play important roles in protecting neurons against membrane lipid peroxidation and Abeta toxicity. The latter findings reveal previously unknown molecular targets for the development of novel therapeutic interventions in AD. We have found that dietary restriction can reduce amyloid deposition and protect neurons from being damaged and killed in animal models of AD, and that this beneficial effect of dietary restriction involves stimulation of the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Antidepressant serotonin reuptake inhibitors can reduce amyloid deposition and improve cognitive function in a mouse model of AD, suggesting a potential prophylactic/therapeutic use of such drugs. In addition, we found that a drug called diazoxide, previously used to treat hypertension,reduces amyloid and tau pathologies and improves cognitive function in our 3xTgAD mouse model of AD. In addition, dietary supplementation with nicotinamide retards the disease process in a mouse model of AD by a mechanism involving sustenance of neuronal energy levels and enhanced clearance of abnormal forms of amyloid and tau. We have shown that diabetes causes a deficit in cognitive function which is associated with impaired hippocampal synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis;exercise and dietary energy restriction can counteract these adverse effects of diabetes. Our recent findings suggest that an excitatory imbalance, resulting from reduced GABAergic inhibition, is an early and pivotal event in AD pathogenesis. We recently demonstrated a therapeutic benefit of drugs used to improve glycemic control in animal models of diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, and we have initiated a clinical trial of one of these drugs, Exenatide, in human subjects with mild cognitive impairment or early stage Alzheimer's disease. Impaired brain energy metabolism and oxidative stress are implicated in cognitive decline and the pathologic accumulations of amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) and hyperphosphorylated tau in Alzheimer's disease (AD). To determine whether improving brain energy metabolism will forestall disease progress in AD, the impact of the β-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide precursor nicotinamide on brain cell mitochondrial function and macroautophagy, bioenergetics-related signaling, and cognitive performance were studied in cultured neurons and in a mouse model of AD. Oxidative stress resulted in decreased mitochondrial mass, mitochondrial degeneration, and autophagosome accumulation in neurons. Nicotinamide preserved mitochondrial integrity and autophagy function, and reduced neuronal vulnerability to oxidative/metabolic insults and Aβtoxicity. β-Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide biosynthesis, autophagy, and phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase signaling were required for the neuroprotective action of nicotinamide. Treatment of 3xTgAD mice with nicotinamide for 8 months resulted in improved cognitive performance, and reduced Aβand hyperphosphorylated tau pathologies in hippocampus and cerebral cortex. Nicotinamide treatment preserved mitochondrial integrity, and improved autophagy-lysosome procession by enhancing lysosome/autolysosome acidification to reduce autophagosome accumulation. Treatment of 3xTgAD mice with nicotinamide resulted in elevated levels of activated neuroplasticity-related kinases (protein kinase B Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinases) and the transcription factor cyclic adenosine monophosphate (AMP) response element-binding protein in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. Thus, nicotinamide suppresses AD pathology and cognitive decline in a mouse model of AD by a mechanism involving improved brain bioenergetics with preserved functionality of mitochondria and the autophagy system. Age-associated dysregulation of sleep can be worsened by Alzheimer's disease (AD). AD and sleep restriction both impair cognition, yet it is unknown if mild chronic sleep restriction modifies the proteopathic processes involved in AD. The goal of this work was to test the hypothesis that sleep restriction worsens memory impairments, and amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) and pTau accumulations in the brain in a mouse model of AD, with a focus on a role for circulating glucocorticoids (GC). Male 3xTgAD mice were subjected to sleep restriction (SR) for 6h/day for 6 weeks using the modified multiple platform technique, and behavioral (Morris water maze, fear conditioning, open field) and biochemical (immunoblot) outcomes were compared to mice undergoing daily cage transfers (large cage control;LCC) as well as control mice that remained in their home cage (control;CTL). At one week, both LCC and SR mice displayed significant elevations in plasma corticosterone compared to CTL (p<0.002). By four weeks, SR mice displayed a two-fold increase in circulating corticosterone levels compared to CTL. Behavioral data indicated deficits in contextual and cued memory in SR mice that were not present for LCC or CTL (p<0.04). Both Aβand pTau levels increased in the cortex of SR mice compared to CTL and LCC;however these changes were not noted in the hippocampus. Significant positive correlations between cortical Aβand pTau levels and circulating corticosterone indicate a potential role for GCs in mediating behavioral and biochemical changes observed after sleep restriction in a mouse model of AD. Alzheimer's disease (AD) involves progressive accumulation of amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) and neurofibrillary pathologies, and glucose hypometabolism in brain regions critical for memory. The 3xTgAD mouse model was used to test the hypothesis that a ketone ester-based diet can ameliorate AD pathogenesis. Beginning at a presymptomatic age, 2 groups of male 3xTgAD mice were fed a diet containing a physiological enantiomeric precursor of ketone bodies (KET) or an isocaloric carbohydrate diet. The results of behavioral tests performed at 4 and 7 months after diet initiation revealed that KET-fed mice exhibited significantly less anxiety in 2 different tests. 3xTgAD mice on the KET diet also exhibited significant, albeit relatively subtle, improvements in performance on learning and memory tests. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed that KET-fed mice exhibited decreased Aβdeposition in the subiculum, CA1 and CA3 regions of the hippocampus, and the amygdala. KET-fed mice exhibited reduced levels of hyperphosphorylated tau deposition in the same regions of the hippocampus, amygdala, and cortex. Thus, a novel ketone ester can ameliorate proteopathic and behavioral deficits in a mouse AD model.

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National Institute on Aging (NIA)
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Yang, Jenq-Lin; Lin, Yu-Ting; Chuang, Pei-Chin et al. (2014) BDNF and exercise enhance neuronal DNA repair by stimulating CREB-mediated production of apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1. Neuromolecular Med 16:161-74
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Liu, Dong; Pitta, Michael; Jiang, Haiyang et al. (2013) Nicotinamide forestalls pathology and cognitive decline in Alzheimer mice: evidence for improved neuronal bioenergetics and autophagy procession. Neurobiol Aging 34:1564-80

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