Identification and drug-induced reversion of molecular signatures of Alzheimer's disease onset and progression in AppNL-G-F, AppNL-F, and 3xTg-AD mouse models

Genome Med. 2021 Oct 26;13(1):168. doi: 10.1186/s13073-021-00983-y.


Background: In spite of many years of research, our understanding of the molecular bases of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is still incomplete, and the medical treatments available mainly target the disease symptoms and are hardly effective. Indeed, the modulation of a single target (e.g., β-secretase) has proven to be insufficient to significantly alter the physiopathology of the disease, and we should therefore move from gene-centric to systemic therapeutic strategies, where AD-related changes are modulated globally.

Methods: Here we present the complete characterization of three murine models of AD at different stages of the disease (i.e., onset, progression and advanced). We combined the cognitive assessment of these mice with histological analyses and full transcriptional and protein quantification profiling of the hippocampus. Additionally, we derived specific Aβ-related molecular AD signatures and looked for drugs able to globally revert them.

Results: We found that AD models show accelerated aging and that factors specifically associated with Aβ pathology are involved. We discovered a few proteins whose abundance increases with AD progression, while the corresponding transcript levels remain stable, and showed that at least two of them (i.e., lfit3 and Syt11) co-localize with Aβ plaques in the brain. Finally, we found two NSAIDs (dexketoprofen and etodolac) and two anti-hypertensives (penbutolol and bendroflumethiazide) that overturn the cognitive impairment in AD mice while reducing Aβ plaques in the hippocampus and partially restoring the physiological levels of AD signature genes to wild-type levels.

Conclusions: The characterization of three AD mouse models at different disease stages provides an unprecedented view of AD pathology and how this differs from physiological aging. Moreover, our computational strategy to chemically revert AD signatures has shown that NSAID and anti-hypertensive drugs may still have an opportunity as anti-AD agents, challenging previous reports.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Data-driven drug discovery; In vivo models; Proteomics; Transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cognitive Dysfunction
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Discovery
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Plaque, Amyloid / metabolism
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Transcriptome*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides