Harnessing IGF-1 and IL-2 as biomarkers for calcineurin activity to tailor optimal FK506 dosage in α-synucleinopathies

Sofia Zaichick, Gabriela Caraveo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Rise in Calcium (Ca2+) and hyperactive Ca2+-dependent phosphatase calcineurin represent two key determinants of a-synuclein (a-syn) pathobiology implicated in Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and other neurodegenerative diseases. Calcineurin activity can be inhibited with FK506, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved compound. Our previous work demonstrated a protective effect of low doses of FK506 against a-syn pathology in various models of a-syn related pathobiology. Methods: Control and a-syn-expressing mice (12-18 months old) were injected with vehicle or two single doses of FK506 administered 4 days apart. Cerebral cortex and serum from these mice were collected and assayed using a meso scale discovery quickplex SQ 120 for cytokines and Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for IGF-1. Results: In this study we present evidence that reducing calcineurin activity with FK506 in a-syn transgenic mice increased insulin growth factor (IGF-1), while simultaneously decreasing IL-2 levels in both cerebral cortex and serum. Discussion: The highly conserved Ca2+/calcineurin signaling pathway is known to be affected in a-syn-dependent human disease. FK506, an already approved drug for other uses, exhibits high brain penetrance and a proven safety profile. IL-2 and IGF-1 are produced throughout life and can be measured using standard clinical methods. Our findings provide two potential biomarkers that could guide a clinical trial of FK506 in PD patients, without posing significant logistical or regulatory challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1292555
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Biosciences
StatePublished - 2023


  • biomarkers
  • calcineurin
  • FK506
  • IGF-1
  • IL-2
  • neuroprotection
  • α-synuclein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)


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