Reduction of β-amyloid pathology by celastrol in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease

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Daniel Paris email, Nowell J Ganey email, Vincent Laporte email, Nikunj S Patel email, David Beaulieu-Abdelahad email, Corbin Bachmeier email, Amelia March email, Ghania Ait-Ghezala email and Michael J Mullan email

The Roskamp Institute, 2040 Whitfield Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34243, USA

author email corresponding author email

Journal of Neuroinflammation 2010, 7:17doi:10.1186/1742-2094-7-17
Published: 8 March 2010

Aβ deposits represent a neuropathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Both soluble and insoluble Aβ species are considered to be responsible for initiating the pathological cascade that eventually leads to AD. Therefore, the identification of therapeutic approaches that can lower Aβ production or accumulation remains a priority. NFκB has been shown to regulate BACE-1 expression level, the rate limiting enzyme responsible for the production of Aβ. We therefore explored whether the known NFκB inhibitor celastrol could represent a suitable compound for decreasing Aβ production and accumulation in vivo.

The effect of celastrol on amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing, Aβ production and NFκB activation was investigated by western blotting and ELISAs using a cell line overexpressing APP. The impact of celastrol on brain Aβ accumulation was tested in a transgenic mouse model of AD overexpressing the human APP695sw mutation and the presenilin-1 mutation M146L (Tg PS1/APPsw) by immunostaining and ELISAs. An acute treatment with celastrol was investigated by administering celastrol intraperitoneally at a dosage of 1 mg/Kg in 35 week-old Tg PS1/APPsw for 4 consecutive days. In addition, a chronic treatment (32 days) with celastrol was tested using a matrix-driven delivery pellet system implanted subcutaneously in 5 month-old Tg PS1/APPsw to ensure a continuous daily release of 2.5 mg/Kg of celastrol.

In vitro, celastrol dose dependently prevented NFκB activation and inhibited BACE-1 expression. Celastrol potently inhibited Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42 production by reducing the β-cleavage of APP, leading to decreased levels of APP-CTFβ and APPsβ. In vivo, celastrol appeared to reduce the levels of both soluble and insoluble Aβ1-38, Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42. In addition, a reduction in Aβ plaque burden and microglial activation was observed in the brains of Tg PS1/APPsw following a chronic administration of celastrol.

Overall our data suggest that celastrol is a potent Aβ lowering compound that acts as an indirect BACE-1 inhibitor possibly by regulating BACE-1 expression level via an NFκB dependent mechanism. Additional work is required to determine whether chronic administration of celastrol can be safely achieved with cognitive benefits in a transgenic mouse model of AD.