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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2010 Feb;332(2):505-14. doi: 10.1124/jpet.109.162164. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

Imipramine, in part through tumor necrosis factor alpha inhibition, prevents cognitive decline and beta-amyloid accumulation in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

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Groupe de Recherche sur le Vieillissement Cérébral-Equipe d'accueil 3808, Université de Poitiers, Poitiers, France.


Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common form of dementia in the older people, is a multifactoral pathology, characterized by cognitive deficits, increase in cerebral deposition of the beta-amyloid (Abeta) peptide, neurofibrillary tangles, and neurodegeneration. Studies currently support a central role of neuroinflammation, through production of proinflammatory cytokines including excess tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) in the pathogenesis of AD, especially in Abeta-induced cognitive deficits. Imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant, has potent anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. This study investigates the effect of imipramine on alterations of long-term and short-term memories, TNF-alpha expression, and amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing induced by intracerebroventricular injection of Abeta25-35 in mice. Mice were treated with imipramine (10 mg/kg i.p. once a day for 13 days) from the day after the Abeta25-35 injection. Memory function was evaluated in the water-maze (days 10-14) and Y-maze (day 9) tests. TNF-alpha levels and APP processing were examined in the frontal cortex and the hippocampus (day 14). Imipramine significantly prevented memory deficits caused by Abeta25-35 in the water-maze and Y-maze tests, and inhibited the TNF-alpha increase in the frontal cortex. Moreover, imipramine decreased the elevated levels of Abeta both in frontal cortex and hippocampus with different modulations of APP and C-terminal fragments of APP. So, imipramine prevents memory impairment through its intrinsic property to inhibit TNF-alpha and Abeta accumulation and may represent a potential candidate for AD treatment.

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