Amelioration of neurodegenerative changes in cellular and rat models of diabetes-related Alzheimer's disease by exendin-4

Song Chen, Ai-ran Liu, Feng-mao An, Wen-bing Yao, Xiang-dong Gao
Age (2005-) 2012, 34 (5): 1211-24
Growing evidence suggests that type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) is associated with age-dependent Alzheimer's disease (AD), the latter of which has even been considered as type 3 diabetes. Several physiopathological features including hyperglycemia, oxidative stress, and dysfunctional insulin signaling relate DM to AD. In this study, high glucose-, oxidative stress-induced neuronal injury and intracerebroventricular-streptozotocin (ICV-STZ) animals as the possible models for diabetes-related AD were employed to investigate the effects of exendin-4 (Ex-4), a long-acting glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, on diabetes-associated Alzheimer-like changes as well as the molecular mechanisms involved. Our study demonstrated that GLP-1/Ex-4 could exert a protective effect against reduced viability of PC12 cells caused by high glucose and that this protective effect was mediated via the PI3-kinase pathway. In addition, GLP-1/Ex-4 ameliorated oxidative stress-induced injury in PC12 cells. In rat models, bilateral ICV-STZ administration was used to produce impaired insulin signaling in the brain. Fourteen days following ICV-STZ injection, rats treated with twice-daily Ex-4 had better learning and memory performance in the Morris water maze test compared with rats treated with saline. Additionally, histopathological evaluation confirmed the protective effects of Ex-4 treatment on hippocampal neurons against degeneration. Furthermore, we demonstrated that Ex-4 reversed ICV-STZ-induced tau hyperphosphorylation through downregulation of GSK-3β activity, a key kinase in both DM and AD. Our findings suggests that Ex-4 can protect neurons from diabetes-associated glucose metabolic dysregulation insults in vitro and from ICV-STZ insult in vivo, and that Ex-4 may prove of therapeutic value in the treatment of AD especially DM-related AD.

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