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J Neurosci. 2013 May 8;33(19):8423-41. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4610-12.2013.

Elevation of brain magnesium prevents and reverses cognitive deficits and synaptic loss in Alzheimer's disease mouse model.

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1
Tsinghua-Peking Center for Life Sciences, School of Medicine, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.

Abstract

Profound synapse loss is one of the major pathological hallmarks associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and might underlie memory impairment. Our previous work demonstrated that the magnesium ion is a critical factor in controlling synapse density/plasticity. Here, we investigated whether elevation of brain magnesium by the use of a recently developed compound, magnesium-l-threonate (MgT), can ameliorate the AD-like pathologies and cognitive deficits in the APPswe/PS1dE9 mice, a transgenic (Tg) mouse model of AD. MgT treatment reduced Aβ plaque and prevented synapse loss and memory decline in the Tg mice. Strikingly, MgT treatment was effective even when given to the mice at the end stage of their AD-like pathological progression. To explore how elevation of brain magnesium ameliorates the AD-like pathologies in the brains of Tg mice, we studied molecules critical for APP metabolism and signaling pathways implicated in synaptic plasticity/density. In the Tg mice, the NMDAR/CREB/BDNF signaling was downregulated, whereas calpain/calcineurin/Cdk5 neurodegenerative signaling and β-secretase (BACE1) expression were upregulated. MgT treatment prevented the impairment of these signaling pathways, stabilized BACE1 expression, and reduced soluble APPβ and β-C-terminal fragments in the Tg mice. At the molecular level, elevation of extracellular magnesium prevented the high-Aβ-induced reductions in synaptic NMDARs by preventing calcineurin overactivation in hippocampal slices. Correlation studies suggested that the protection of NMDAR signaling might underlie the stabilization of BACE1 expression. Our results suggest that elevation of brain magnesium exerts substantial synaptoprotective effects in a mouse model of AD and may have therapeutic potential for treating AD in humans.

PMID:
23658180
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4610-12.2013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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