Background: The use of neurotrophic factors to treat Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is hindered by their blood–brain barrier impermeability, short half-life, and severe side effects. Peptide 021 (P021) is a neurotrophic/neurogenic tetrapeptide that was derived from the most active region of the ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) by epitope mapping. Admantylated glycine was added to its C-terminal to increase its blood–brain barrier permeability and decrease its degradation by exopeptidases to make it druggable. Here, we report on the preventive effect of P021 in 3 × Tg-AD, a transgenic mouse model of AD.
Methods: P021 was administered in the diet at 3 months, i.e., 6–9 months before any overt amyloid beta (Aβ) or tau pathology, and during the period of synaptic compensation, and was continued until 21 months in 3 × Tg-AD mice. The 3 × Tg-AD mice and wild-type (WT) mice were treated identically but with a vehicle-only diet serving as controls. The effects of P021 on neurogenesis, dendritic and synaptic markers, and cognitive performance were investigated.
Results: We found that P021 treatment was able to rescue dendritic and synaptic deficits, boost neurogenesis, and reverse cognitive impairment in 3 × Tg-AD mice.
Conclusions: Availability of appropriate neurotrophic support during the period of synaptic compensation can prevent synaptic deficit and cognitive impairment, and P021 is a promising neurotrophic compound for this purpose.