Insulin growth factor binding protein 7 is a novel target to treat dementia

Neurobiol Dis. 2014 Feb:62:135-43. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2013.09.011. Epub 2013 Sep 25.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia in the elderly but effective therapeutic strategies to treat AD are not yet available. This is also due to the fact that the pathological mechanisms that drive the pathogenesis of sporadic AD are still not sufficiently understood and may differ on the individual level. Several risk factors such as altered insulin-like peptide (ILP) signaling have been linked to AD and modulating the ILP system has been discussed as a potential therapeutic avenue. Here we show that insulin-like growth factor binding protein 7 (IGFBP7), a protein that attenuates the function of ILPs, is up-regulated in the brains of AD patients and in a mouse model for AD via a process that involves altered DNA-methylation and coincides with decreased ILP signaling. Mimicking the AD-situation in wild type mice, by increasing hippocampal IGFBP7 levels leads to impaired memory consolidation. Consistently, inhibiting IGFBP7 function in mice that develop AD-like memory impairment reinstates associative learning behavior. These data suggest that IGFBP7 is a critical regulator of memory consolidation and might be used as a biomarker for AD. Targeting IGFBP7 could be a novel therapeutic avenue for the treatment of AD patients.

Keywords: Alzheimer; Epigenetics; Insulin-like growth factor binding proteins; Learning and memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • DNA Methylation
  • Dementia / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins / pharmacology
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • insulin-like growth factor binding protein-related protein 1