Altered synaptic function is considered one of the first features of Alzheimer disease (AD). Currently, no treatment is available to prevent the dysfunction of excitatory synapses in AD. Identification of the key modulators of synaptopathy is of particular significance in the treatment of AD. We here characterized the pathways leading to synaptopathy in TgCRND8 mice and showed that c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) is activated at the spine prior to the onset of cognitive impairment. The specific inhibition of JNK, with its specific inhibiting peptide D-JNKI1, prevented synaptic dysfunction in TgCRND8 mice. D-JNKI1 avoided both the loss of postsynaptic proteins and glutamate receptors from the postsynaptic density and the reduction in size of excitatory synapses, reverting their dysfunction. This set of data reveals that JNK is a key signaling pathway in AD synaptic injury and that its specific inhibition offers an innovative therapeutic strategy to prevent spine degeneration in AD.
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