Theranostics. 2020; 10(18): 8430–8445. (IF:11.556).

Modulation of the Astrocyte-Neuron Lactate Shuttle System contributes to Neuroprotective action of Fibroblast Growth Factor 21

Yan Sun, Yue Wang, Su-Ting Chen, Ying-Jie Chen, Jie Shen, Wen-Bing Yao, Xiang-Dong Gao, and Song ChenAuthor informationArticle notesCopyright and License informationDisclaimerThis article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

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A viewpoint considering Alzheimer’s disease (AD) as “type 3 diabetes” emphasizes the pivotal role of dysfunctional brain energy metabolism in AD. The hormone fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a crucial regulator in energy metabolism; however, our understanding of the therapeutic potential and mechanisms underlying the effect of FGF21 on neurodegeneration of AD is far from complete.

Methods: To further elucidate the effect of FGF21 on AD-related neurodegeneration, we used APP/PS1 transgenic mice to assess the effects of FGF21 on memory dysfunction, amyloid plaque pathology and pathological tau hyperphosphorylation. We also established an in vitro system to mimic astrocyte-neuron communication and an in vivo model of acute injury. Based on the in vivo and in vitro models, we analyzed the neuroprotective actions of FGF21 and pathways related to astrocyte-neuron communication and further focused on the astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle system.

Results: Here, we report that FGF21 can ameliorate Alzheimer-like neurodegeneration in APP/PS1 transgenic mice. We detected defects in the astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle system in the in vivo and in vitro models of AD and identified FGF21 as a neuroprotective molecule that can rescue these deficits. Administration of FGF21 can alleviate memory dysfunction, amyloid plaque pathology and pathological tau hyperphosphorylation, and the function of FGF21 in neurodegeneration is mediated in part by monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs). In vivo evidence also suggests that FGF21 acts centrally in mice to exert its effects on neurodegeneration and energy metabolism via its regulation of MCTs.

Conclusions: These results suggest that FGF21 alters metabolic parameters to mediate its neuroprotective functions. Modulation of the astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle system can be one of the most efficient strategies for FGF21 in Alzheimer-like degeneration and contributes to improvements in brain metabolic defects and amyloid β-induced cytotoxicity. Our findings provide insights into the mechanisms underlying the effects of FGF21 on neurodegeneration and brain energy metabolism and suggest that FGF21 may have therapeutic value in the treatment of AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, Astrocyte, FGF21, Neuroprotective, Neuron