Acat1 knockdown gene therapy decreases amyloid-β in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Mol Ther. 2013 Aug;21(8):1497-506. doi: 10.1038/mt.2013.118. Epub 2013 Jun 18.


Both genetic inactivation and pharmacological inhibition of the cholesteryl ester synthetic enzyme acyl-CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase 1 (ACAT1) have shown benefit in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this study, we aimed to test the potential therapeutic applications of adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated Acat1 gene knockdown in AD mice. We constructed recombinant AAVs expressing artificial microRNA (miRNA) sequences, which targeted Acat1 for knockdown. We demonstrated that our AAVs could infect cultured mouse neurons and glia and effectively knockdown ACAT activity in vitro. We next delivered the AAVs to mouse brains neurosurgically, and demonstrated that Acat1-targeting AAVs could express viral proteins and effectively diminish ACAT activity in vivo, without inducing appreciable inflammation. We delivered the AAVs to the brains of 10-month-old AD mice and analyzed the effects on the AD phenotype at 12 months of age. Acat1-targeting AAV delivered to the brains of AD mice decreased the levels of brain amyloid-β and full-length human amyloid precursor protein (hAPP), to levels similar to complete genetic ablation of Acat1. This study provides support for the potential therapeutic use of Acat1 knockdown gene therapy in AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetyl-CoA C-Acetyltransferase / genetics*
  • Acetyl-CoA C-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / genetics*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Gene Order
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Transduction, Genetic


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • MicroRNAs
  • Acetyl-CoA C-Acetyltransferase