Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has long been considered a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the molecular links between T2DM and AD remain obscure. Here, we reported that serum-/glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1 (SGK1) is activated by administering a chronic high-fat diet (HFD), which increases the risk of T2DM, and thus promotes Tau pathology via the phosphorylation of tau at Ser214 and the activation of a key tau kinase, namely, GSK-3ß, forming SGK1-GSK-3ß-tau complex. SGK1 was activated under conditions of elevated glucocorticoid and hyperglycemia associated with HFD, but not of fatty acid-mediated insulin resistance. Elevated expression of SGK1 in the mouse hippocampus led to neurodegeneration and impairments in learning and memory. Upregulation and activation of SGK1, SGK1-GSK-3ß-tau complex were also observed in the hippocampi of AD cases. Our results suggest that SGK1 is a key modifier of tau pathology in AD, linking AD to corticosteroid effects and T2DM.
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