Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by severe cognitive impairment that ultimately leads to death. Endothelin (ET) and its receptors have been considered as therapeutic targets for AD. Recent studies in our lab have shown that stimulation of ETB receptors provide significant neuroprotection following Aβ1-40 administration. It is possible that IRL-1620 may be neuroprotective due to angiogenesis. However, the effect of IRL-1620 on neurovascular remodeling following Aβ1-40 administration has not been established. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of stimulation of ETB receptors by IRL-1620 on vascular and neuronal growth factors after Aβ1-40 administration. Rats were treated with Aβ1-40 (day 1, 7 and 14) in the lateral cerebral ventricles using stereotaxically implanted cannula and received three intravenous injections of IRL-1620 (an ETB agonist), and/or BQ788 (an ETB antagonist) at 2-h interval on day 8; experiments were performed on day 15. Rats were sacrificed for estimation of brain ETB receptors, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) expression using immunofluorescence and Western blot. In the Morris swim task, amyloid-β (Aβ)-treated rats showed a significant (p<0.0001) impairment in spatial memory. Rats treated with IRL-1620 significantly (p<0.001) reduced the cognitive impairment induced by Aβ. BQ788 treatment completely blocked IRL-1620-induced improvement in cognitive impairment. IRL-1620 treatment enhanced the number of blood vessels labeled with VEGF compared to vehicle treatment. Additionally, cells showed increased (p<0.001) positive staining for NGF in IRL-1620-treated animals. ETB, VEGF and NGF protein expression significantly (p<0.001) increased in the brain of IRL-1620-treated rats as compared to vehicle. Pretreatment with BQ788 blocked the effects of IRL-1620, thus confirming the role of ETB receptors in the neurovascular remodeling actions of IRL-1620. Results of the present study demonstrate that IRL-1620 improves both acquisition (learning) and retention (memory) on the water maze task and enhances angiogenic and neurogenic remodeling. These findings indicate that the ETB receptor may be a novel therapeutic target for AD and other neurovascular degenerative disorders.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; ET(B) receptors; angiogenesis; cognitive impairment; endothelin; neurogenesis.
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