AMPK is a key regulator at the molecular level for maintaining energy metabolism homeostasis. Mammalian AMPK is a heterotrimeric complex, and its catalytic α subunit exists in 2 isoforms: AMPKα1 and AMPKα2. Recent studies suggest a role of AMPKα overactivation in Alzheimer’s disease–associated (AD-associated) synaptic failure. However, whether AD-associated dementia can be improved by targeting AMPK remains unclear, and roles of AMPKα isoforms in AD pathophysiology are not understood. Here, we showed distinct disruption of hippocampal AMPKα isoform expression patterns in postmortem human AD patients and AD model mice. We further investigated the effects of brain- and isoform-specific AMPKα repression on AD pathophysiology. We found that repression of AMPKα1 alleviated cognitive deficits and synaptic failure displayed in 2 separate lines of AD model mice. In contrast, AMPKα2 suppression did not alter AD pathophysiology. Using unbiased mass spectrometry–based proteomics analysis, we identified distinct patterns of protein expression associated with specific AMPKα isoform suppression in AD model mice. Further, AD-associated hyperphosphorylation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) was blunted with selective AMPKα1 inhibition. Our findings reveal isoform-specific roles of AMPKα in AD pathophysiology, thus providing insights into potential therapeutic strategies for AD and related dementia syndromes.
Helena R. Zimmermann, Wenzhong Yang, Nicole P. Kasica, Xueyan Zhou, Xin Wang, Brenna C. Beckelman, Jingyun Lee, Cristina M. Furdui, C. Dirk Keene, Tao Ma