Pharmacological doses of melatonin impede cognitive decline in tau-related Alzheimer models, once tauopathy is initiated, by restoring the autophagic flux

Enrique Luengo, Izaskun Buendia, Cristina Fernández-Mendívil, Paula Trigo-Alonso, Pilar Negredo, Patrycja Michalska, Borja Hernández-García, Cristina Sánchez-Ramos, Juan A. Bernal, Tsuneya Ikezu, Rafael León, Manuela G. López

Abstract

Alterations in autophagy are increasingly being recognized in the pathogenesis of proteinopathies like Alzheimer's disease (AD). This study was conducted to evaluate whether melatonin treatment could provide beneficial effects in an Alzheimer model related to tauopathy by improving the autophagic flux and, thereby, prevent cognitive decline. The injection of AAV-hTauP301L viral vectors and treatment/injection with okadaic acid were used to achieve mouse and human ex vivo, and in vivo tau-related models. Melatonin (10 μmol/L) impeded oxidative stress, tau hyperphosphorylation, and cell death by restoring autophagy flux in the ex vivo models. In the in vivo studies, intracerebroventricular injection of AAV-hTauP301L increased oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and tau hyperphosphorylation in the hippocampus 7 days after the injection, without inducing cognitive impairment; however, when animals were maintained for 28 days, cognitive decline was apparent. Interestingly, late melatonin treatment (10 mg/kg), starting once the alterations mentioned above were established (from day 7 to day 28), reduced oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, tau hyperphosphorylation, and caspase-3 activation; these observations correlated with restoration of the autophagy flux and memory improvement. This study highlights the importance of autophagic dysregulation in tauopathy and how administration of pharmacological doses of melatonin, once tauopathy is initiated, can restore the autophagy flux, reduce proteinopathy, and prevent cognitive decline. We therefore propose exogenous melatonin supplementation or the development of melatonin derivatives to improve autophagy flux for the treatment of proteinopathies like AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12578
JournalJournal of Pineal Research
Volume67
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • autophagy
  • cognitive decline
  • melatonin
  • tau

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology

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