Most drug discovery efforts for Alzheimers disease (AD) have focused on prevention or clearance of β- amyloid (Aβ) fibrils or oligomers, with far less attention to prevention of τ abnormalities that lead to neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). Much evidence now indicates that Ab multimers can trigger neurodegenerative changes that involve formation of dystrophic neurites and cytoskeletal collapse, possibly due loss of microtubule (MT) stabilization by the τ protein. We have found that several MT-stabilizing agents such as Taxol significantly enhanced neuronal survival in the presence of Aβ and identified agents that enter the brain, a necessity for in vivo testing in animal models of t pathology. Studies were designed to test two agents in the τ mutant (JNPL3) mouse that develops severe motor deficits at about seven months of age, accompanied by neuropathological markers of t pathology. In addition to using motor performance tests through the planned period of drug administration, we designed a simple appetitive memory test that required a reduction in ad lib food intake. Although the neurochemical data are still being analyzed, we were surprised to find that all of the JNPL3 mice, whether receiving the drug or not, developed no signs of motor impairment up to 10 months of age. This is considerably beyond the age at which free-fed mice survived and suggests that the food restriction alone may have delayed the pathological process. A study is ongoing with free-fed mice to determine if the drug interventions do have any beneficial effects in these mutant mice.
Keywords: neurodegeneration, AD-like mouse model, KU-237, JNPL3 mice, microtubule
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