Memory enhancers for alzheimer’s dementia: Focus on cGMP

Ernesto Fedele, Roberta Ricciarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cyclic guanosine-3,5-monophosphate, better known as cyclic-GMP or cGMP, is a classical second messenger involved in a variety of intracellular pathways ultimately controlling different physiological functions. The family of guanylyl cyclases that includes soluble and particulate en-zymes, each of which comprises several isoforms with different mechanisms of activation, synthesizes cGMP. cGMP signaling is mainly executed by the activation of protein kinase G and cyclic nucleotide gated channels, whereas it is terminated by its hydrolysis to GMP operated by both specific and dual-substrate phosphodiesterases. In the central nervous system, cGMP has attracted the attention of neuroscientists especially for its key role in the synaptic plasticity phenomenon of long-term potentiation that is instrumental to memory formation and consolidation, thus setting off a “gold rush” for new drugs that could be effective for the treatment of cognitive deficits. In this article, we summarize the state of the art on the neurochemistry of the cGMP system and then review the pre-clinical and clinical evidence on the use of cGMP enhancers in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) therapy. Although preclinical data demonstrates the beneficial effects of cGMP on cognitive deficits in AD animal models, the results of the clinical studies carried out to date are not conclusive. More trials with a dose-finding design on selected AD patient’s cohorts, possibly investigating also combination therapies, are still needed to evaluate the clinical potential of cGMP enhancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • CGMP
  • Cyclic guanosine-3,5-monophosphate
  • Dementia
  • Guanylyl cyclase
  • Phosphodiesterase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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