Berberine ameliorates β-amyloid pathology, gliosis, and cognitive impairment in an Alzheimer's disease transgenic mouse model

Siva Sundara Kumar Durairajan, Liang-Feng Liu, Jia-Hong Lu, Lei-Lei Chen, Qiuju Yuan, Sookja K Chung, Ling Huang, Xing-Shu Li, Jian-Dong Huang, Min Li
Neurobiology of Aging 2012, 33 (12): 2903-19
The accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide derived from abnormal processing of amyloid precursor protein (APP) is a common pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD) brains. In this study, we evaluated the therapeutic effect of berberine (BBR) extracted from Coptis chinensis Franch, a Chinese medicinal herb, on the neuropathology and cognitive impairment in TgCRND8 mice, a well established transgenic mouse model of AD. Two-month-old TgCRND8 mice received a low (25 mg/kg per day) or a high dose of BBR (100 mg/kg per day) by oral gavage until 6 months old. BBR treatment significantly ameliorated learning deficits, long-term spatial memory retention, as well as plaque load compared with vehicle control treatment. In addition, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) measurement showed that there was a profound reduction in levels of detergent-soluble and -insoluble β-amyloid in brain homogenates of BBR-treated mice. Glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)3, a major kinase involved in APP and tau phosphorylation, was significantly inhibited by BBR treatment. We also found that BBR significantly decreased the levels of C-terminal fragments of APP and the hyperphosphorylation of APP and tau via the Akt/glycogen synthase kinase 3 signaling pathway in N2a mouse neuroblastoma cells stably expressing human Swedish mutant APP695 (N2a-SwedAPP). Our results suggest that BBR provides neuroprotective effects in TgCRND8 mice through regulating APP processing and that further investigation of the BBR for therapeutic use in treating AD is warranted.

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