Muscarinic agonists reduce tau phosphorylation in non-neuronal cells via GSK-3beta inhibition and in neurons.
Forlenza OV., Spink JM., Dayanandan R., Anderton BH., Olesen OF., Lovestone S.
Muscarinic agonists alter the metabolism of amyloid precursor protein, leading to an increase in alpha-secretase cleavage and a decreased production of amyloidogenic peptides; suggesting that these compounds might modify the Alzheimer's disease process. A second therapeutic target in AD is the accumulation of stably phosphorylated tau into neurofibrillary tangles; an early event correlating with cognitive impairment. Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3beta) phosphorylates tau and is inhibited via protein kinase C (PKC). As certain muscarinic receptors are linked to PKC, we examined the effect of a range of agonists on GSK-3beta phosphorylation of tau. In neurons a nonspecific muscarinic agonist, carbachol, reduced tau phosphorylation. In nonneuronal cells expressing the ml receptor a range of ml agonists reduced transiently-expressed tau phosphorylation and altered its microtubulebinding properties. These findings link the two pathological process of AD-APP metabolism and tau phosphorylation - and suggest that muscarinic and other cholinergic compounds might have disease-modifying properties.