Sildenafil decreases BACE1 and cathepsin B levels and reduces APP amyloidogenic processing in the SAMP8 mouse
The senescence-accelerated mouse-prone 8 (SAMP8), used as a model of aging, displays many established pathological features of Alzheimer's disease. Cognitive impairments and increased levels of hyperphosphorylated tau are found in the hippocampus of SAMP8 mice along with an increased ß-secretase activity and amyloid-ß (Aß) depositions that increase in number and extent with age. Based on a previous study from our laboratory showing an amelioration of cognitive impairments and tau pathology by sildenafil, in this study we tested whether this drug could also modulate the amyloid precursor protein amyloidogenic processing in this mouse model. Our results show that the protein levels of the ß-secretases ß-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 and cathepsin B are higher in the hippocampus of 9-month-old SAMP8 mice than those of age-matched senescence-resistant-1. Sildenafil (7.5mg/kg for 4 weeks) attenuated learning and memory impairments shown by SAMP8 mice in the passive avoidance test. The increased expression of ß-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 was also reduced by sildenafil, an effect paralleled to decreases in the activities of two ß-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 modulators, calpain and cyclin-dependent kinase 5 protein. Interestingly, sildenafil enhanced both Akt and glycogen synthase kinase-3ß (ser9) phosphorylation, which could be mediating the reduction in cathepsin B levels found in the hippocampus of sildenafil-treated SAMP8 mice. Sildenafil-induced reduction in ß-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 and cathepsin B expression in SAMP8 mice was associated with a decrease in hippocampal Aß42 levels which, in turn, could mediate the parallel decline in glial fibrillary acidic protein expression observed in these animals. These findings highlight the therapeutic potential of sildenafil in Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis.