Amyloid-β pathology and APOE genotype modulate retinoid X receptor agonist activity in vivo

Leon M. Tai, Kevin P. Koster, Jia Luo, Sue H. Lee, Yue Ting Wang, Nicole C. Collins, Manel Ben Aissa, Gregory R.J. Thatcher, Mary Jo LaDu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Previous data demonstrate that bexarotene (Bex), retinoid X receptor (RXR) agonist, reduces soluble and insoluble amyloid-β (Aβ) in Alzheimer disease (AD)-transgenic mice either by increasing the levels of mouse apolipoprotein E (apoE) or increasing ABCA1/ABCG1-induced apoE lipoprotein association/lipidation. However, although the mechanism of action of RXR agonists remains unclear, a major concern for their use is human (h)-APOE4, the greatest AD genetic risk factor. IfAPOE4 imparts a toxic gain-of-function, then increasing apoE4 may increase soluble Aβ, likely the proximal AD neurotoxin. If the APOE4 loss-of-function is lipidation of apoE4, then induction of ABCA1/ABCG1 may be beneficial. In novel EFAD-Tg mice (overexpressing h-Aβ42 with h-APOE), levels of soluble Aβ (Aβ42 and oligomeric Aβ) are highest in E4FAD hippocampus (HP) > E3FAD-HP > E4FAD cortex (CX) > E3FAD-CX, whereas levels of lipoprotein-associated/lipidated apoE have the opposite pattern (6 months). In E4FAD-HP, short-term RXR agonist treatment (Bex or LG100268;5.75-6 months) increased ABCA1, apoE4 lipoprotein-association/lipidation, and apoE4/Aβ complex, decreased soluble Aβ, and increased PSD95. In addition, hydrogel delivery, which mimics low sustained release, was equally effective as gavage for Bex and LG100268. RXR agonists induced no beneficial effects in the E4FAD-HP in a prevention protocol (5-6 months) and actually increased soluble Aβ levels in E3FAD-CX and E4FAD-CX with the short-term protocol, possibly the result of systemic hepatomegaly. Thus, RXR agonists address the loss-of-function associated with APOE4 and exacerbated by Aβ pathology, i.e. low levels of apoE4 lipoprotein association/lipidation. Further studies are vital to address whether RXR agonists are an APOE4-specific AD therapeutic and the systemic side effects that limit translational application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30538-30555
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number44
StatePublished - Oct 31 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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