Inhibition of GSK3β-mediated BACE1 expression reduces Alzheimer-associated phenotypes

J Clin Invest. 2013 Jan;123(1):224-35. doi: 10.1172/JCI64516. Epub 2012 Dec 3.


Deposition of amyloid β protein (Aβ) to form neuritic plaques in the brain is the pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Aβ is generated from sequential cleavages of the β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) by the β- and γ-secretases, and β-site APP-cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) is the β-secretase essential for Aβ generation. Previous studies have indicated that glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) may play a role in APP processing by modulating γ-secretase activity, thereby facilitating Aβ production. There are two highly conserved isoforms of GSK3: GSK3α and GSK3β. We now report that specific inhibition of GSK3β, but not GSK3α, reduced BACE1-mediated cleavage of APP and Aβ production by decreasing BACE1 gene transcription and expression. The regulation of BACE1 gene expression by GSK3β was dependent on NF-κB signaling. Inhibition of GSK3 signaling markedly reduced Aβ deposition and neuritic plaque formation, and rescued memory deficits in the double transgenic AD model mice. These data provide evidence for regulation of BACE1 expression and AD pathogenesis by GSK3β and that inhibition of GSK3 signaling can reduce Aβ neuropathology and alleviate memory deficits in AD model mice. Our study suggests that interventions that specifically target the β-isoform of GSK3 may be a safe and effective approach for treating AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / enzymology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases / biosynthesis*
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases / genetics
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / biosynthesis*
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / genetics
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / genetics
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Plaque, Amyloid / enzymology
  • Plaque, Amyloid / genetics
  • Plaque, Amyloid / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • APP protein, human
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • NF-kappa B
  • GSK3B protein, human
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Gsk3b protein, mouse
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases
  • BACE1 protein, human
  • Bace1 protein, mouse