Calpain inhibitor A-705253 mitigates Alzheimer's disease-like pathology and cognitive decline in aged 3xTgAD mice

Am J Pathol. 2012 Aug;181(2):616-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.04.020. Epub 2012 Jun 9.


Calpains are cysteine proteinases that selectively cleave proteins in response to calcium signals. Exacerbated activation of calpain has been implicated as a major component in the signaling cascade that leads to β-amyloid (Aβ) production and tau hyperphosphorylation in Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this study, we analyzed the potential therapeutic efficacy of inhibiting the activation of calpain by a novel calpain inhibitor in aged 3xTgAD mice with well-established cognitive impairment, plaques, and tangles. The administration of a novel inhibitor of calpain, A-705253, attenuated cognitive impairment and synaptic dysfunction in a dose-dependent manner in 3xTgAD mice. Inhibition of calpain lowered Aβ(40) and Aβ(42) levels in both detergent-soluble and detergent-insoluble fractions and also reduced the total number and size of thioflavin S-positive fibrillar Aβ deposits. Mechanistically, these effects were, in part, explained by a down-regulation of β-secretase 1 (BACE1) and an up-regulation of ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) expression, which, in turn, contributed to reduced production and increased clearance of Aβ, respectively. Moreover, A-705253 decreased the activation of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (CDK5) and thereby diminished the hyperphosphorylation of tau. Finally, blockage of calpain activation reduced the astrocytic and microglial responses associated with AD-like pathological characteristics in aged 3xTgAD mice. Our data provide relevant functional and molecular insights into the beneficial therapeutic effects of inhibiting calpain activation for the management of AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter 1
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism
  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / enzymology
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Benzamides / pharmacology*
  • Benzamides / therapeutic use*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 / metabolism
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Glycoproteins / pharmacology
  • Glycoproteins / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nervous System / drug effects
  • Nervous System / pathology
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • A-705253
  • ABCA1 protein, human
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter 1
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Benzamides
  • Glycoproteins
  • calpain inhibitors
  • tau Proteins
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases
  • Bace1 protein, mouse