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J Biol Chem. 1997 Aug 1;272(31):19547-53.

Insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 regulate tau phosphorylation in cultured human neurons.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Hyperphosphorylated tau is the major component of paired helical filaments in neurofibrillary lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease. Hyperphosphorylation reduces the affinity of tau for microtubules and is thought to be a critical event in the pathogenesis of this disease. Recently, glycogen-synthase kinase-3 has been shown to phosphorylate tau in vitro and in non-neuronal cells transfected with tau. The activity of glycogen-synthase kinase-3 can be down-regulated in response to insulin or insulin-like growth factor-1 through the activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway. We therefore hypothesize that insulin or insulin-like growth factor-1 may affect tau phosphorylation through the inhibition of glycogen-synthase kinase-3 in neurons. Using cultured human neuronal NT2N cells, we demonstrate that glycogen-synthase kinase-3 phosphorylates tau and reduces its affinity for microtubules and that insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 stimulation reduces tau phosphorylation and promotes tau binding to microtubules. We further demonstrate that these effects of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 are mediated through the inhibition of glycogen-synthase kinase-3 via the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B signaling pathway.

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