Downregulation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway in curcumin-induced autophagy in APP/PS1 double transgenic mice

Chen Wang, Xiong Zhang, Zhipeng Teng, Tong Zhang, Yu Li
European Journal of Pharmacology 2014 October 5, 740: 312-20
Autophagy is a lysosomal degradation pathway, which is essential for cell survival, proliferation, differentiation and homeostasis. It is well known that beta-amyloid (Aβ) aggregation is one of key characteristics for Alzheimer's disease (AD), which triggers a complex pathological cascade, leading to neurodegeneration. Recent studies have shown that Aβ peptide is generated from amyloid β precursor protein (APP) during autophagic turnover of APP-rich organelles by autophagy. Aβ generation during normal autophagy is subsequently degraded by lysosomes. Curcumin, a nature plant extraction, has been reported to inhibit the generation and deposition of Aβ; however, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood yet. In the present study, we reported that curcumin treatment not only attenuated cognitive impairment detected by Morris water maze test, but also inhibited the generation of Aβ investigated by immunohistochemistry in APP/PS1 double transgenic AD mice. Moreover, curcumin induced autophagy in the mice, evidenced by LC3 immunofluorescence analysis and western blot assays on LC3. Furthermore, we found that curcumin significantly decreased the expression of Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase (PI3K), phosphorylated Akt and rapamycin (mTOR) at protein levels, respectively. Taken together, our data suggests that curcumin inhibits Aβ generation and induces of autophagy by downregulating PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway, and further shows a neuroprotective effect. Meanwhile curcumin might be a candidate neuroprotective agent for AD patients treatment by inducing autophagy.

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