Background: Neuroinflammation plays an important role in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS, endotoxin) levels are higher in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients and are associated with neuroinflammation and cognitive decline, while neural cholinergic signaling controls inflammation. This study aimed to examine the efficacy of galantamine, a clinically approved cholinergic agent, in alleviating LPS-induced neuroinflammation and cognitive decline as well as the associated mechanism.
Methods: Mice were treated with galantamine (4 mg/kg, intraperitoneal injection) for 14 days prior to LPS exposure (intracerebroventricular injection). Cognitive tests were performed, including the Morris water maze and step-through tests. mRNA expression of the microglial marker (CD11b), astrocytic marker (GFAP), and pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α) were examined in the hippocampus by quantitative RT-PCR. The inflammatory signaling molecule, nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-ΚB p65), and synapse-associated proteins (synaptophysin, SYN, and postsynaptic density protein 95, PSD-95) were examined in the hippocampus by western blotting. Furthermore, NF-ΚB p65 levels in microglial cells and hippocampal neurons were examined in response to LPS and galantamine.
Results: Galantamine treatment prevented LPS-induced deficits in spatial learning and memory as well as memory acquisition of the passive avoidance response. Galantamine decreased the expression of microglia and astrocyte markers (CD11b and GFAP), pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α), and NF-ΚB p65 in the hippocampus of LPS-exposed mice. Furthermore, galantamine ameliorated LPS-induced loss of synapse-associated proteins (SYN and PSD-95) in the hippocampus. In the in vitro study, LPS increased NF-ΚB p65 levels in microglia (BV-2 cells); the supernatant of LPS-stimulated microglia (Mi-sup), but not LPS, decreased the viability of hippocampal neuronal cells (HT-22 cells) and increased NF-ΚB p65 levels as well as expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6) in HT-22 cells. Importantly, galantamine reduced the inflammatory response not only in the BV-2 microglia cell line, but also in the HT-22 hippocampal neuronal cell line.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that galantamine could be a promising treatment to improve endotoxin-induced cognitive decline and neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative diseases.