The cholesterol-lowering drug probucol increases apolipoprotein E production in the hippocampus of aged rats: implications for Alzheimer's disease

Neuroscience. 2003;121(1):99-110. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(03)00361-0.


Several recent epidemiological studies have proposed that cholesterol-lowering drug Statin may provide protection against Alzheimer's disease (AD). Probucol is a non-Statin cholesterol-lowering drug and a potent inducer of apolipoprotein E (apoE) production in peripheral circulation. A recent clinical study using Probucol in elderly AD subjects revealed a concomitant stabilisation of cognitive symptoms and significant increases in apoE levels in the cerebral spinal fluid in these patients. To gain insight into the mechanisms underlying these effects, we treated a cohort of aged male rats (26-month-old) with oral dose of Probucol for 30 days. Specifically, we examined the effects of Probucol on apoE production and its receptors (low density lipoprotein receptor [LDLr] and low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein [LRP]), astroglial marker of cell damage (glial fibrillary acidic protein [GFAP]), markers of neuronal synaptic plasticity and integrity (synaptosomal associated protein of 25 kDa [SNAP-25] and synaptophysin) as well as cholesterol biosynthesis (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase [HMGCoAr]) in the hippocampus. We report that Probucol induces the production of apoE and one of its main receptors, LRP, increases HMGCoAr (rate-limiting enzyme in cholesterol synthesis), substantially attenuates age-related increases in glial activation, and induces production of synaptic marker SNAP-25, a molecule commonly associated with synaptogenesis and dendritic remodeling. These findings suggest that Probucol could promote neural and synaptic plasticity to counteract the synaptic deterioration associated with brain aging through an apoE/LRP-mediated system. Consistent with the beneficial effects of other cholesterol-lowering drugs such as the Statin, Probucol could also offers additional benefits based on apoE neurobiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects*
  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Apolipoproteins E / biosynthesis*
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Probucol / pharmacology*
  • Probucol / therapeutic use
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans


  • Apolipoproteins E
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Cholesterol
  • Probucol