Amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation in the brain is a pathological feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and enhancing Aβ clearance is a potential therapeutic strategy. Pioglitazone is a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ) agonist and is widely used to treat type 2 diabetes. We previously reported that low-dose pioglitazone increased the expression of low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1), which upregulates the clearance of Aβ, using human brain microvascular endothelial cells. We investigated whether low-dose pioglitazone can rescue the pathological phenotype and memory impairment in senescence-accelerated mouse prone-8 (SAMP8) mice by increasing LRP1 levels. SAMP8 mice were treated with vehicle or pioglitazone in dosages of 2 or 5 mg/kg/day for 7 weeks. In the water maze test, 2 mg/kg/day of pioglitazone significantly attenuated the increased escape latency in SAMP8 mice (p = 0.026), while 5 mg/kg/day of treatment did not. Compared with vehicle treatment, the hippocampi of SAMP8 mice with 2 mg/kg/day of pioglitazone exhibited fewer Aβ deposits and reduced Aβ 1–40 levels, along with elevated LRP1 expression (p = 0.005). Collectively, our results proposed that a new therapeutic application of the PPAR-γ agonist for AD treatment should be considered at a lower dose than the conventional dose used to treat diabetes.
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