Rifampicin is a candidate preventive medicine against amyloid-β and tau oligomers

Tomohiro Umeda, Kenjiro Ono, Ayumi Sakai, Minato Yamashita, Mineyuki Mizuguchi, William L. Klein, Masahito Yamada, Hiroshi Mori, Takami Tomiyama*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

Amyloid-β, tau, and α-synuclein, or more specifically their soluble oligomers, are the aetiologic molecules in Alzheimer's disease, tauopathies, and α-synucleinopathies, respectively. These proteins have been shown to interact to accelerate each other's pathology. Clinical studies of amyloid-β-targeting therapies in Alzheimer's disease have revealed that the treatments after disease onset have little benefit on patient cognition. These findings prompted us to explore a preventive medicine which is orally available, has few adverse effects, and is effective at reducing neurotoxic oligomers with a broad spectrum. We initially tested five candidate compounds: rifampicin, curcumin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, myricetin, and scyllo-inositol, in cells expressing amyloid precursor protein (APP) with the Osaka (E693Δ) mutation, which promotes amyloid-β oligomerization. Among these compounds, rifampicin, a well-known antibiotic, showed the strongest activities against the accumulation and toxicity (i.e. cytochrome c release from mitochondria) of intracellular amyloid-β oligomers. Under cell-free conditions, rifampicin inhibited oligomer formation of amyloid-β, tau, and α-synuclein, indicating its broad spectrum. The inhibitory effects of rifampicin against amyloid-β and tau oligomers were evaluated in APPOSK mice (amyloid-β oligomer model), Tg2576 mice (Alzheimer's disease model), and tau609 mice (tauopathy model). When orally administered to 17-month-old APPOSK mice at 0.5 and 1 mg/day for 1 month, rifampicin reduced the accumulation of amyloid-β oligomers as well as tau hyperphosphorylation, synapse loss, and microglial activation in a dose-dependent manner. In the Morris water maze, rifampicin at 1 mg/day improved memory of the mice to a level similar to that in non-transgenic littermates. Rifampicin also inhibited cytochrome c release from the mitochondria and caspase 3 activation in the hippocampus. In 13-month-old Tg2576 mice, oral rifampicin at 0.5 mg/day for 1 month decreased amyloid-β oligomer accumulation, tau hyperphosphorylation, synapse loss, and microglial activation, but not amyloid deposition. Rifampicin treatment to 14-15-month-old tau609 mice at 0.5 and 1 mg/day for 1 month also reduced tau oligomer accumulation, tau hyperphosphorylation, synapse loss, and microglial activation in a dose-dependent fashion, and improved the memory almost completely at 1 mg/day. In addition, rifampicin decreased the level of p62/sequestosome-1 in the brain without affecting the increased levels of LC3 (microtubule-associated protein light chain 3) conversion, suggesting the restoration of autophagy-lysosomal function. Considering its prescribed dose and safety in humans, these results indicate that rifampicin could be a promising, ready-to-use medicine for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1568-1586
Number of pages19
JournalBrain
Volume139
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Keywords

  • autophagy
  • mitochondria
  • neurodegenerative disease
  • oligomer
  • prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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