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Int J Biol Sci 2014; 10(2):181-191. doi:10.7150/ijbs.6232

Research Paper

Icariin Decreases the Expression of APP and BACE-1 and Reduces the β-amyloid Burden in an APP Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease

Lan Zhang, Cong Shen, Jin Chu, Ruyi Zhang, Yali Li, Lin Li

Department of Pharmacology, Xuanwu Hospital of Capital Medical University, Key Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Diseases of Ministry of Education, Beijing 100053, China.

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects and pharmacological mechanisms of icariin, which is the main component in the traditional Chinese herb Epimedium, on β-amyloid (Aβ) production in an amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic (Tg) mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Methods: APPV717I Tg mice were randomly divided into a model group and icariin-treated (30 and 100 μmol/kg per day) groups. Learning-memory abilities were determined by Morris water maze and object recognition tests. Aβ contents were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and immunohistochemistry. Amyloid plaques were detected by Congo red staining and Bielschowsky silver staining. The levels of expression of APP and β-site APP-cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE-1) were measured by western blotting and immunohistochemistry.

Results: Ten-month-old Tg mice showed obvious learning-memory impairments, and significant increases in Aβ contents, amyloid plaques, and APP and BACE-1 levels in the hippocampus. The intragastric administration of icariin to Tg mice for 6 months (from 4 to 10 months of age) improved the learning-memory abilities and significantly decreased the Aβ contents, amyloid plaques, and APP and BACE-1 levels in the hippocampus.

Conclusion: Icariin reduced the Aβ burden and amyloid plaque deposition in the hippocampus of APP transgenic mice by decreasing the APP and BACE-1 levels. These novel findings suggest that icariin may be a promising treatment in patients with AD.

Keywords: Icariin, Alzheimer's disease, APPV717I transgenic mice, β-amyloid, amyloid plaque, BACE-1, amyloid precursor protein

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How to cite this article:
Zhang L, Shen C, Chu J, Zhang R, Li Y, Li L. Icariin Decreases the Expression of APP and BACE-1 and Reduces the β-amyloid Burden in an APP Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease. Int J Biol Sci 2014; 10(2):181-191. doi:10.7150/ijbs.6232. Available from http://www.ijbs.com/v10p0181.htm