NP03, a Microdose Lithium Formulation, Blunts Early Amyloid Post-Plaque Neuropathology in McGill-R-Thy1-APP Alzheimer-Like Transgenic Rats

J Alzheimers Dis. 2020;73(2):723-739. doi: 10.3233/JAD-190862.


Epidemiological, preclinical, and clinical studies have suggested a role for microdose lithium in reducing Alzheimer's disease (AD) risk by modulating key mechanisms associated with AD pathology. The novel microdose lithium formulation, NP03, has disease-modifying effects in the McGill-R-Thy1-APP transgenic rat model of AD-like amyloidosis at pre-plaque stages, before frank amyloid-β (Aβ) plaque deposition, during which Aβ is primarily intraneuronal. Here, we are interested in determining whether the positive effects of microdose lithium extend into early Aβ post-plaque stages. We administered NP03 (40μg Li/kg; 1 ml/kg body weight) to McGill-R-Thy1-APP transgenic rats for 12 weeks spanning the transition phase from plaque-free to plaque-bearing. The effect of NP03 on remote working memory was assessed using the novel object recognition task. Levels of human Aβ38, Aβ40, and Aβ42 as well as levels of pro-inflammatory mediators were measured in brain-extracts and plasma using electrochemiluminescent assays. Mature Aβ plaques were visualized with a thioflavin-S staining. Vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) bouton density and levels of chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 1 (CXCL1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) were probed using quantitative immunohistochemistry. During the early Aβ post-plaque stage, we find that NP03 rescues functional deficits in object recognition, reduces loss of cholinergic boutons in the hippocampus, reduces levels of soluble and insoluble cortical Aβ42 and reduces hippocampal Aβ plaque number. In addition, NP03 reduces markers of neuroinflammation and cellular oxidative stress. Together these results indicate that microdose lithium NP03 is effective at later stages of amyloid pathology, after appearance of Aβ plaques.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Aβ pathology; brain repair; cholinergic boutons; cognition; lithium microdose; neuroinflammation; oxidative stress; transgenic rat model.

MeSH terms

  • Aldehydes / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Citrates / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Compounding
  • Encephalitis / metabolism
  • Encephalitis / pathology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Lithium Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Plaque, Amyloid / pathology*
  • Plaque, Amyloid / prevention & control*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Transgenic
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Vesicular Acetylcholine Transport Proteins / metabolism


  • Aldehydes
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Chemokines
  • Citrates
  • Il6 protein, rat
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lithium Compounds
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Slc18a3 protein, rat
  • Vesicular Acetylcholine Transport Proteins
  • np03 formulation
  • lithium citrate
  • 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal