Effects of Chronic Arginase Inhibition with Norvaline on Tau Pathology and Brain Glucose Metabolism in Alzheimer's Disease Mice

Baruh Polis, Margherita Squillario, Vyacheslav Gurevich, Kolluru D. Srikanth, Michael Assa, Abraham O. Samson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an insidious neurodegenerative disorder representing a serious continuously escalating medico-social problem. The AD-associated progressive dementia is followed by gradual formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Though, converging evidence indicates apparent metabolic dysfunctions as key AD characteristic. In particular, late-onset AD possesses a clear metabolic signature. Considerable brain insulin signaling impairment and a decline in glucose metabolism are common AD attributes. Thus, positron emission tomography (PET) with glucose tracers is a reliable non-invasive tool for early AD diagnosis and treatment efficacy monitoring. Various approaches and agents have been trialed to modulate insulin signaling. Accumulating data point to arginase inhibition as a promising direction to treat AD via diverse molecular mechanisms involving, inter alia, the insulin pathway. Here, we use a transgenic AD mouse model, demonstrating age-dependent brain insulin signaling abnormalities, reduced brain insulin receptor levels, and substantial energy metabolism alterations, to evaluate the effects of arginase inhibition with Norvaline on glucose metabolism. We utilize fluorodeoxyglucose whole-body micro-PET to reveal a significant treatment-associated increase in glucose uptake by the brain tissue in-vivo. Additionally, we apply advanced molecular biology and bioinformatics methods to explore the mechanisms underlying the effects of Norvaline on glucose metabolism. We demonstrate that treatment-associated improvement in glucose utilization is followed by significantly elevated levels of insulin receptor and glucose transporter-3 expression in the mice hippocampi. Additionally, Norvaline diminishes the rate of Tau protein phosphorylation. Our results suggest that Norvaline interferes with AD pathogenesis. These findings open new avenues for clinical evaluation and innovative drug development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1255-1268
Number of pages14
JournalNeurochemical Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


This research was supported by Marie Curie CIG Grant 322113, Leir Foundation Grant, Ginzburg Family Foundation Grant, and Katz Foundation Grant (all to AOS).

FundersFunder number
Ginzburg Family Foundation
Jerold B. Katz Foundation
Leir Foundation
Marie Curie322113


    • Energy metabolism
    • Functional brain imaging
    • GLUT3
    • Glucose uptake
    • Insulin receptor
    • Tau protein


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