, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 83-101
Date: 06 Nov 2011

Insulin receptor signaling mediates APP processing and β-amyloid accumulation without altering survival in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease

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In brains from patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), expression of insulin receptor (IR), insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R), and insulin receptor substrate proteins is downregulated. A key step in the pathogenesis of AD is the accumulation of amyloid precursor protein (APP) cleavage products, β-amyloid (Aβ)1-42 and Aβ1–40. Recently, we and others have shown that central IGF-1 resistance reduces Aβ accumulation as well as Aβ toxicity and promotes survival. To define the role of IR in this context, we crossed neuron-specific IR knockout mice (nIR−/−) with Tg2576 mice, a well-established mouse model of an AD-like pathology. Here, we show that neuronal IR deficiency in Tg2576 (nIR−/−Tg2576) mice leads to markedly decreased Aβ burden but does not rescue premature mortality of Tg2576 mice. Analyzing APP C-terminal fragments (CTF) revealed decreased α-/β-CTFs in the brains of nIR−/−Tg2576 mice suggesting decreased APP processing. Cell based experiments showed that inhibition of the PI3-kinase pathway suppresses endosomal APP cleavage and decreases α- as well as β-secretase activity. Deletion of only one copy of the neuronal IGF-1R partially rescues the premature mortality of Tg2576 mice without altering total amyloid load. Analysis of Tg2576 mice expressing either a dominant negative or constitutively active form of forkhead box-O (FoxO)1 did not reveal any alteration of amyloid burden, APP processing and did not rescue premature mortality in these mice. Thus, our findings identified IR signaling as a potent regulator of Aβ accumulation in vivo. But exclusively decreased IGF-1R expression reduces AD-associated mortality independent of β-amyloid accumulation and FoxO1-mediated transcription.

Oliver Stöhr, Katharina Schilbach, and Lorna Moll contributed equally to this work.