The -secretase complex is a major therapeutic target for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Previous studies have shown that treatment of young APP mice with specific inhibitors of -secretase prevented formation of new plaques. It has not yet been shown directly whether existing plaques would be affected by -secretase inhibitor treatment. Similarly, alterations in neuronal morphology in the immediate vicinity of plaques represent a plaque-specific neurotoxic effect. Reversal of these alterations is an important endpoint of successful therapy whether or not a treatment affects plaque size. In the present study we used longitudinal imaging in vivo with multiphoton microscopy to study the effects of the orally active -secretase inhibitor LY-411575 in 10-11 month old APP:PS1 mice with established amyloid pathology and neuritic abnormalities. Neurons expressed YFP allowing fluorescent detection of morphology whereas plaques were labelled with methoxy-XO4. The same identified neurites and plaques were followed in weekly imaging sessions in living mice treated daily (5 mg/kg) for 3 weeks with the compound. Although LY-411575 reduced A levels in plasma and brain, it did not have an effect on the size of existing plaques. There was also no effect on the abnormal neuritic curvature near plaques, or the dystrophies in very close proximity to senile plaques. Our results suggest that therapeutics aimed at inhibition of A generation are less effective for reversal of existing plaques than for prevention of new plaque formation and have no effect on the plaque-mediated neuritic abnormalities, at least under these conditions where A production is suppressed but not completely blocked. Therefore, a combination therapy of A suppression with agents that increase clearance of amyloid and/or prevent neurotoxicity might be needed for a more effective treatment in patients with pre-existing pathology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience