Long-term treatment with intranasal insulin ameliorates cognitive impairment, tau hyperphosphorylation, and microglial activation in a streptozotocin-induced Alzheimer's rat model

Zhangyu Guo, Yanxing Chen, Yan-Fang Mao, Tingting Zheng, Yasi Jiang, Yaping Yan, Xinzhen Yin, Baorong Zhang
Scientific Reports 2017 April 6, 7: 45971
Recent evidence reveals that aberrant brain insulin signaling plays an important role in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Intranasal insulin administration has been reported to improve memory and attention in healthy participants and in AD patients. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we treated intracerebroventricular streptozotocin-injected (ICV-STZ) rats, a commonly used animal model of sporadic AD, with daily intranasal delivery of insulin (2 U/day) for 6 consecutive weeks and then studied their cognitive function with the Morris water maze test and biochemical changes via Western blotting. We observed cognitive deficits, tau hyperphosphorylation, and neuroinflammation in the brains of ICV-STZ rats. Intranasal insulin treatment for 6 weeks significantly improved cognitive function, attenuated the level of tau hyperphosphorylation, ameliorated microglial activation, and enhanced neurogenesis in ICV-STZ rats. Additionally, our results indicate that intranasal delivery of insulin probably attenuates tau hyperphosphorylation through the down-regulation of ERK1/2 and CaMKII in the brains of ICV-STZ rats. Our findings demonstrate a beneficial effect of intranasal insulin and provide the mechanistic basis for treating AD patients with intranasal insulin.

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