NO is an important messenger molecule in the brain, playing an important role in learning and memory, in particular via the ERK/CREB signaling pathway. NO is also a neuroprotective agent; multiple mechanisms having been demonstrated that can contribute to cell survival as levels of antioxidants and trophic factors are reduced with aging. Small molecules that mimic the biological activity of NO, including NO donors, may thus ameliorate cognition and provide neuroprotection. Several lines of evidence have linked the neurodegeneration and dementia characteristic of Alzheimers disease with the action of β-amyloid protein at the α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. The interplay of Aβ with α7-nicotinic ACh receptors operating via the ERK signaling cascade links the amyloid cascade and the cholinergic hypothesis in pathways that impact synaptic plasticity and memory. This interplay also provides linkages to disruption of NO/cGMP signaling in AD, and in addition, recent direct evidence has been found demonstrating that Aβ downregulates the NO/cGMP/CREB pathway. Activation of soluble guanylyl cyclase elevating cGMP in the brain represents the central element of a therapeutic approach to the treatment of AD and other neurodegenerative diseases, furthermore, evidence suggests that NO may display cGMP-independent activity and may operate via multiple biochemical signaling pathways to ensure the survival of neurons subjected to stress. GT 1061 is an NO chimera, an NO mimetic compound that contains an ancillary, synergistic pharmacophore, currently in clinical trials for Alzheimers. NO chimeras and hybrid nitrates hold promise as therapeutics for AD with multiple sites of action.
Keywords: Cognition, Dementia, Nitric oxide, cGMP, Nitrate, Alzheimer's, Neurodegeneration, BDNF
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