There is always something promising taking place in the lab with respect to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of age-related neurodegeneration, but all too few such line items successfully work their way through the chain to clinical application.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by amyloid beta (Aβ) deposits, hyperphosphorylated tau deposition, and cognitive dysfunction. Abnormalities in the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which plays an important role in learning and memory formation, have been reported in the brains of AD patients. A BDNF modulating peptide (Neuropep-1) was previously identified by positional-scanning synthetic peptide combinatorial library.
Here we examine the neuroprotective effects of Neuropep-1 on several in vitro neurotoxic insults, and triple-transgenic AD mouse model (3xTg-AD). Neuropep-1 protects cultured neurons against oligomeric Aβ1-42, 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium, and glutamate-induced neuronal cell death. Neuropep-1 injection also significantly rescues the spatial learning and memory deficits of 3xTg-AD mice compared with vehicle-treated control group. Neuropep-1 treatment markedly increases hippocampal and cortical BDNF levels. Furthermore, we found that Neuropep-1-injected 3xTg-AD mice exhibit dramatically reduced Aβ plaque deposition and Aβ levels without affecting tau pathology. Neuropep-1 treatment does not alter the expression or activity of full-length amyloid precursor protein, α-, β-, or γ-secretase, but levels of insulin degrading enzyme, an Aβ degrading enzyme, were increased. These findings suggest Neuropep-1 may be a therapeutic candidate for the treatment of AD.