Genetic reduction of Nrf2 exacerbates cognitive deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Caterina Branca, Eric Ferreira, Thuy Vi Nguyen, Kristian Doyle, Antonella Caccamo, Salvatore Oddo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Aging is the major risk factor for several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the mechanisms by which aging contributes to neurodegeneration remain elusive. The nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) is a transcription factor that regulates expression of a vast number of genes by binding to the antioxidant response element. Nrf2 levels decrease as a function of age, and reduced Nrf2 levels have been reported in postmortem human brains and animal models of AD. Nevertheless, it is still unknown whether Nrf2 plays a role in the cognitive deficits associated with AD. To address this question, we used a genetic approach to remove the Nrf2 gene from APP/PS1 mice, a widely used animal model of AD. We found that the lack of Nrf2 significantly exacerbates cognitive deficits in APP/PS1, without altering gross motor function. Specifically, we found an exacerbation of deficits in spatial learning and memory, as well as in working and associative memory. Different brain regions control these behavioral tests, indicating that the lack of Nrf2 has a global effect on brain function. The changes in cognition were linked to an increase in Aβ and interferon-gamma (IFNγ) levels, and microgliosis. The changes in IFNγ levels are noteworthy as previously published evidence indicates that IFNγ can increase microglia activation and induce Aβ production. Our data suggest a clear link between Nrf2 and AD-mediated cognitive decline and further strengthen the connection between Nrf2 and AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4823-4835
Number of pages13
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Genetic reduction of Nrf2 exacerbates cognitive deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this