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Reduced Alzheimer's Disease Pathology by St. John's Wort Treatment is Independent of Hyperforin and Facilitated by ABCC1 and Microglia Activation in Mice

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Soluble β-amyloid peptides (Aβ) and small Aβ oligomers represent the most toxic peptide moieties recognized in brains affected by Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here we provide the first evidence that specific St. John’s wort (SJW) extracts both attenuate Aβ-induced histopathology and alleviate memory impairments in APP-transgenic mice. Importantly, these effects are attained independently of hyperforin. Specifically, two extracts characterized by low hyperforin content (i) significantly decrease intracerebral Aβ42 levels, (ii) decrease the number and size of amyloid plaques, (iii) rescue neocortical neurons, (iv) restore cognition to normal levels, and (iv) activate microglia in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, we reveal that the reduction of soluble Aβ42 species is the consequence of a highly increased export activity in the bloodbrain barrier ABCC1transporter, which was found to play a fundamental role in Aβ excretion into the bloodstream. These data (i) support the significant beneficial potential of SJW extracts on AD proteopathy, and (ii) demonstrate for the first time that hyperforin concentration does not necessarily correlate with their therapeutic effects. Hence, by activating ABC transporters, specific extracts of SJW may be used to treat AD and other diseases involving peptide accumulation and cognition impairment. We propose that the anti-depressant and anti-dementia effects of these hyperforin-reduced phytoextracts could be combined for treatment of the elderly, with a concomitant reduction in deleterious hyperforin-related side effects.
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Keywords: ABC transporters; ABCC1; Alzheimer's disease; Hypericumperforatum; St. John’s wort; blood-brain barrier; hyperforin; β-amyloid clearance

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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  • Current Alzheimer Research publishes peer-reviewed frontier review and research articles on all areas of Alzheimer's disease. This multidisciplinary journal will help in understanding the neurobiology, genetics, pathogenesis, and treatment strategies of Alzheimer's disease. The journal publishes objective reviews written by experts and leaders actively engaged in research using cellular, molecular, and animal models. The journal also covers original articles on recent research in fast emerging areas of molecular diagnostics, brain imaging, drug development and discovery, and clinical aspects of Alzheimer's disease. Manuscripts are encouraged that relate to the synergistic mechanism of Alzheimer's disease with other dementia and neurodegenerative disorders. Book reviews, meeting reports and letters-to-the-editor are also published. The journal is essential reading for researchers, educators and physicians with interest in age-related dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Current Alzheimer Research provides a comprehensive 'bird's-eye view' of the current state of Alzheimer's research for neuroscientists, clinicians, health science planners, granting, caregivers and families of this devastating disease.
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