Alterations in cerebral cholesterol metabolism are thought to play a role in the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Liver X receptors (LXRs) are key regulators of cholesterol metabolism. The synthetic LXR activator, T0901317 has been reported to improve memory functions in animal models for AD and to reduce amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition in the brain. Here we provide evidence that long-term administration of T0901317 to aged, 21-month-old APPSLxPS1mut mice restores impaired memory. Cerebral cholesterol turnover was enhanced as indicated by the increased levels of brain cholesterol precursors and the upregulation of LXR-target genes Abca1, Abcg1, and Apoe. Unexpectedly, the improved memory functions in the APPSLxPS1mut mice after T0901317 treatment were not accompanied by a decrease in Aβ plaque load in the cortex or hippocampus DG, CA1 or CA3. T0901317 administration also enhanced cerebral cholesterol turnover in aged C57BL/6NCrl mice, but did not further improve their memory functions. In conclusion, long-term activation of the LXR-pathway restored memory functions in aged APPSLxPS1mut mice with advanced Aβ deposition. However the beneficial effects of T0901317 on memory in the APPSLxPS1mut mice were independent of the Aβ plaque load in the hippocampus, but were associated with enhanced brain cholesterol turnover.
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