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J Neurosci. 2012 May 23;32(21):7137-45. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0188-12.2012.

Hyperdynamic microtubules, cognitive deficits, and pathology are improved in tau transgenic mice with low doses of the microtubule-stabilizing agent BMS-241027.

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  • 1Neuroscience Drug Discovery, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Wallingford, Connecticut 06492, USA. donna.barten@bms.com


Tau is a microtubule (MT)-stabilizing protein that is altered in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other tauopathies. It is hypothesized that the hyperphosphorylated, conformationally altered, and multimeric forms of tau lead to a disruption of MT stability; however, direct evidence is lacking in vivo. In this study, an in vivo stable isotope-mass spectrometric technique was used to measure the turnover, or dynamicity, of MTs in brains of living animals. We demonstrated an age-dependent increase in MT dynamics in two different tau transgenic mouse models, 3xTg and rTg4510. MT hyperdynamicity was dependent on tau expression, since a reduction of transgene expression with doxycycline reversed the MT changes. Treatment of rTg4510 mice with the epothilone, BMS-241027, also restored MT dynamics to baseline levels. In addition, MT stabilization with BMS-241027 had beneficial effects on Morris water maze deficits, tau pathology, and neurodegeneration. Interestingly, pathological and functional benefits of BMS-241027 were observed at doses that only partially reversed MT hyperdynamicity. Together, these data suggest that tau-mediated loss of MT stability may contribute to disease progression and that very low doses of BMS-241027 may be useful in the treatment of AD and other tauopathies.

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