Background: Accumulated evidence suggests that insulin resistance and impairments in cerebral insulin receptor signaling may contribute to age-related cognitive deficits and Alzheimer's disease. The enhancement of insulin receptor signaling is, therefore, a promising strategy for the treatment of age-related cognitive disorders. The mitochondrial respiratory chain, being involved in insulin-stimulated H2O2 production, has been identified recently as a potential target for the enhancement of insulin signaling. The aim of the present study is to examine: (1) whether a specific respiratory substrate, dicholine salt of succinic acid (CS), can enhance insulin-stimulated insulin receptor autophosphorylation in neurons, and (2) whether CS can ameliorate cognitive deficits of various origins in animal models.
Results: In a primary culture of cerebellar granule neurons, CS significantly enhanced insulin-stimulated insulin receptor autophosphorylation. In animal models, CS significantly ameliorated cognitive deficits, when administered intraperitoneally for 7 days. In 16-month-old middle-aged C57Bl/6 mice (a model of normal aging), CS enhanced spatial learning in the Morris water maze, spontaneous locomotor activity, passive avoidance performance, and increased brain N-acetylaspartate/creatine levels, as compared to the age-matched control (saline). In rats with chronic cerebral hypoperfusion, CS enhanced spatial learning, passive avoidance performance, and increased brain N-acetylaspartate/creatine levels, as compared to control rats (saline). In rats with beta-amyloid peptide-(25-35)-induced amnesia, CS enhanced passive avoidance performance and increased activity of brain choline acetyltransferase, as compared to control rats (saline). In all used models, CS effects lasted beyond the seven-day treatment period and were found to be significant about two weeks following the treatment.
Conclusion: The results of the present study suggest that dicholine salt of succinic acid, a novel neuronal insulin sensitizer, ameliorates cognitive deficits and neuronal dysfunctions in animal models relevant to age-related cognitive impairments, vascular dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.