Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized pathologically by the structural and functional impairments of synapses in the hippocampus, inducing the learning and memory deficiencies. Ras GTPase is closely related to the synaptic function and memory. This study was to investigate the effects of farnesyl transferase inhibitor lonafarnib on the synaptic structure and function in AD male mice and explore the potential mechanism. Our results showed 50 mg/kg lonafarnib (intraperitoneal) rescued the impaired spatial memory and improved the damaged synaptic transmission and plasticity of Aβ1-42 mice. In addition, lonafarnib ameliorated the morphology of synaptic dendrites and spines in Aβ1-42 mice. Furthermore, lonafarnib enhanced α7nAChR cell surface expression and phosphorylation of downstream Akt and CaMKII in Aβ1-42 mice, which were inhibited by α7nAChR antagonist methyl lycaconitine (MLA), and increased the phosphorylation of CREB in a CaMKII- but not ERK-dependent way. Lonafarnib enhanced hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) concentration in Aβ1-42 mice, which was sensitive to MLA and KN93 (an inhibitor of CaMKII), but not related to ERK and Akt pathways. H-Ras, but not Rhes, was related to the lonafarnib induced improvement of α7nAChR cell surface expression and BDNF content. Interestingly, lonafarnib induced improvement of synaptic transmission, plasticity and spatial cognition in Aβ1-42 mice was abolished by BDNF deprivation with TrkB/Fc chimera protein. Our results indicate that lonafarnib can rescue the structural and functional impairments of synapses in the Aβ1-42 mice, which may be related to the improvement of BDNF content through the H-Ras-α7nAChR-dependent CaMKII-CREB pathway, leading to the improvement of spatial cognition.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized pathologically by the structural and functional impairments of synapses in the hippocampus, inducing the learning and memory deficiencies. However, no effective drugs have not been developed for the treatment of AD synaptic. This study for the first time reported the beneficial effects of Ras inhibitor lonafarnib on the synaptic structure and function in AD mice, providing an alternative way for the treatment of "synaptic disease" in AD patients.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; lonafarnib; synaptic function; synaptic structure.
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