Calcineurin inhibition rescues early synaptic plasticity deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Virve Cavallucci, Nicola Berretta, Annalisa Nobili, Robert Nisticò, Nicola B. Mercuri, Marcello D'Amelio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Functional and ultrastructural investigations support the concept that altered brain connectivity, exhausted neural plasticity, and synaptic loss are the strongest correlates of cognitive decline in age-related neurodegenerative dementia of Alzheimer's type. We have previously demonstrated that in transgenic mice, expressing amyloid-β precursor protein-Swedish mutation active caspase-3 accumulates in hippocampal postsynaptic compartments leading to altered postsynaptic density (PSD) composition, increased long-term depression (LTD), and dendritic spine loss. Furthermore, we found strong evidence that dendritic spine alteration is mediated by calcineurin activation, a calcium-dependent phosphatase involved in synapse signaling. In the present work, we analyzed the molecular mechanism linking alteration of synaptic plasticity to the increase of calcineurin activity. We found that acute treatment of young and plaque-free transgenic mice with the calcineurin inhibitor FK506 leads to a complete rescue of LTD and PSD composition. Our findings are in agreement with other results reporting that calcineurin inhibition improves memory function and restores dendritic spine density, confirming that calcineurin inhibition may be explored as a neuroprotective treatment to stop or slowdown synaptic alterations in Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-548
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroMolecular Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


  • Alzheimer
  • Dendritic spine
  • Long-term depression
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Tacrolimus
  • Tg2576 mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Neurology


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