Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurosci. 2014 May 14;34(20):6736-45. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5075-13.2014.

α-Melanocyte stimulating hormone prevents GABAergic neuronal loss and improves cognitive function in Alzheimer's disease.

Author information

Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada.
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada


In Alzheimer's disease (AD), appropriate excitatory-inhibitory balance required for memory formation is impaired. Our objective was to elucidate deficits in the inhibitory GABAergic system in the TgCRND8 mouse model of AD to establish a link between GABAergic dysfunction and cognitive function. We sought to determine whether the neuroprotective peptide α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) attenuates GABAergic loss and thus improves cognition. TgCRND8 mice with established β-amyloid peptide pathology and nontransgenic littermates were treated with either α-MSH or vehicle via daily intraperitoneal injections for 28 d. TgCRND8 mice exhibited spatial memory deficits and altered anxiety that were rescued after α-MSH treatment. The expression of GABAergic marker glutamic acid decarboxylase 67 (GAD67) and the number of GABAergic GAD67+ interneurons expressing neuropeptide Y and somatostatin are reduced in the hippocampus in vehicle-treated TgCRND8 mice. In the septohippocampal pathway, GABAergic deficits are observed before cholinergic deficits, suggesting that GABAergic loss may underlie behavior deficits in vehicle-treated TgCRND8 mice. α-MSH preserves GAD67 expression and prevents loss of the somatostatin-expressing subtype of GABAergic GAD67+ inhibitory interneurons. Without decreasing β-amyloid peptide load in the brain, α-MSH improves spatial memory in TgCRND8 mice and prevents alterations in anxiety. α-MSH modulated the excitatory-inhibitory balance in the brain by restoring GABAergic inhibition and, as a result, improved cognition in TgCRND8 mice.


Alzheimer's disease; GABAergic system; cognitive function; somatostatin; α-melanocyte stimulating hormone

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center