Early intrathecal infusion of everolimus restores cognitive function and mood in a murine model of Alzheimer's disease

T. Cassano, A. Magini, S. Giovagnoli, A. Polchi, S. Calcagnini, L. Pace, M. A. Lavecchia, C. Scuderi, M. R. Bronzuoli, L. Ruggeri, M. P. Gentileschi, A. Romano, S. Gaetani, F. De Marco, C. Emiliani, D. Dolcetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The discovery that mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibition increases lifespan in mice and restores/delays many aging phenotypes has led to the identification of a novel potential therapeutic target for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Among mTOR inhibitors, everolimus, which has been developed to improve the pharmacokinetic characteristics of rapamycin, has been extensively profiled in preclinical and clinical studies as anticancer and immunosuppressive agent, but no information is available about its potential effects on neurodegenerative disorders. Using a reliable mouse model of AD (3xTg-AD mice), we explored whether short-term treatment with everolimus injected directly into the brain by osmotic pumps was able to modify AD-like pathology with low impact on peripheral organs. We first established in non-transgenic mice the stability of everolimus at 37 degrees C in comparison with rapamycin and, then, evaluated its pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics profiles through either a single peripheral (i.p.) or central (i.c.v.) route of administration. Finally, 6-month-old (symptomatic phase) 3xTg-AD mice were treated with continuous infusion of either vehicle or everolimus (0.167mug/mul/day, i.c.v.) using the osmotic pumps. Four weeks after the beginning of infusion, we tested our hypothesis following an integrated approach, including behavioral (tests for cognitive and depressive-like alterations), biochemical and immunohistochemical analyses. Everolimus (i) showed higher stability than rapamycin at 37 degrees C, (ii) poorly crossed the blood-brain barrier after i.p. injection, (iii) was slowly metabolized in the brain due to a longer t1/2 in the brain compared to blood, and (iv) was more effective in the CNS when administered centrally compared to a peripheral route. Moreover, the everolimus-induced mTOR inhibition reduced human APP/Abeta and human tau levels and improved cognitive function and depressive-like phenotype in the 3xTg-AD mice. The intrathecal infusion of everolimus may be effective to treat early stages of AD-pathology through a short and cyclic administration regimen, with short-term outcomes and a low impact on peripheral organs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-105
Number of pages18
JournalExperimental Neurology
Publication statusPublished - Sep 20 2018


  • 3xTg-AD mice
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Depression
  • Everolimus
  • Intrathecal administration
  • Learning and memory
  • Mammalian target of rapamycin


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