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Neurobiol Dis. 2019 Jul 23;132:104541. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2019.104541. [Epub ahead of print]

The effects of insulin and insulin-like growth factor I on amyloid precursor protein phosphorylation in in vitro and in vivo models of Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2200, United States of America.
Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2200, United States of America. Electronic address:


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a growing problem worldwide, and there are currently no effective treatments for this devastating disease. The neurotrophic growth factors insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) are currently being investigated as potential therapeutic approaches for AD in preclinical and clinical studies. However, given that the metabolic syndrome (MetS) and diabetes are risk factors for AD, it is unknown how associated insulin resistance (IR) in the brain may impact the effectiveness of these therapies for AD. In this report, we therefore investigated the mechanisms underlying the effects of insulin and IGF-I on AD-associated pathology in the context of IR, with particular emphasis on phosphorylation of amyloid precursor protein (APP), a key step in promoting amyloid plaque formation in AD. Both insulin and IGF-I decreased APP phosphorylation in cultured primary cortical neurons, supporting their therapeutic use in AD. Induction of IR blocked the beneficial effect of insulin and reduced the effect of IGF-I on APP dephosphorylation. These effects were mediated by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K)/protein kinase B (Akt) pathway, as inhibition of this pathway during IR restored the effect of IGF-I on APP dephosphorylation. Finally, we explored the translational relevance of these results in vivo by demonstrating that high fat diet fed mice, a robust model of IR and MetS, exhibited the expected increased brain APP phosphorylation. Overall, these data suggest that the beneficial therapeutic effect of insulin and IGF-I on APP phosphorylation is negatively impacted by IR, and suggest that insulin and IGF-I alone may not be appropriate therapies for AD patients with IR, MetS, or diabetes.


Alzheimer's disease; Amyloid precursor protein; IGF-I; Insulin; Insulin resistance


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