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J Neurochem. 2011 Dec;119(6):1330-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2011.07532.x. Epub 2011 Nov 2.

A novel glycogen synthase kinase-3 inhibitor 2-methyl-5-(3-{4-[(S )-methylsulfinyl]phenyl}-1-benzofuran-5-yl)-1,3,4-oxadiazole decreases tau phosphorylation and ameliorates cognitive deficits in a transgenic model of Alzheimer's disease.

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Pharmacology Research Laboratories, Pharmaceutical Research Division, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Limited, Juso-Honmachi, Yodogawa, Osaka, Japan.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder leading to a progressive loss of cognitive function and is pathologically characterized by senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) is involved in AD pathogenesis. GSK-3 is reported not only to phosphorylate tau, a major component of neurofibrillary tangles, but also to regulate the production of amyloid β, which is deposited in senile plaques. Therefore, pharmacological inhibition of GSK-3 is considered an attractive therapeutic approach. In this study, we report the pharmacological effects of a novel GSK-3 inhibitor, 2-methyl-5-(3-{4-[(S)-methylsulfinyl]phenyl}-1-benzofuran-5-yl)-1,3,4-oxadiazole (MMBO), which displays high selectivity for GSK-3 and brain penetration following oral administration. MMBO inhibited tau phosphorylation in primary neural cell culture and also in normal mouse brain. When administered to a transgenic mouse model of AD, MMBO significantly decreased hippocampal tau phosphorylation at GSK-3 sites. Additionally, chronic MMBO administration suppressed tau pathology as assessed by AT8-immunoreactivity without affecting amyloid β pathology. Finally, in behavioral assessments, MMBO significantly improved memory and cognitive deficits in the Y-maze and in novel object recognition tests in the transgenic AD mouse model. These results indicate that pharmacological GSK-3 inhibition ameliorates behavioral dysfunction with suppression of tau phosphorylation in an AD mouse model, and that MMBO might be beneficial for AD treatment.

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