ABCA1 Agonist Reverses the ApoE4-Driven Cognitive and Brain Pathologies

Anat Boehm-Cagan, Roni Bar, Ori Liraz, John K. Bielicki, Jan O. Johansson, Daniel M. Michaelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The allele ϵ4 of apolipoprotein E (apoE4) is the most prevalent genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and is therefore a promising therapeutic target. Human and animal model studies suggest that apoE4 is hypolipidated; accordingly, we have previously shown that the retinoid X receptor (RXR) agonist bexarotene upregulates ABCA1, the main apoE-lipidating protein, resulting in increased lipidation of apoE4, and the subsequent reversal of the pathological effects of apoE4, namely: accumulation of Aβ 42 and hyperphosphorylated tau, as well as reduction in the levels of synaptic markers and cognitive deficits. Since the RXR system has numerous other targets, it is important to devise the means of activating ABCA1 selectively. We presently utilized CS-6253, a peptide shown to directly activate ABCA1 in vitro, and examined the extent to which it can affect the degree of lipidation of apoE4 in vivo and counteract the associated brain and behavioral pathologies. This revealed that treatment of young apoE4-targeted replacement mice with CS-6253 increases the lipidation of apoE4. This was associated with a reversal of the apoE4-driven Aβ 42 accumulation and tau hyperphosphorylation in hippocampal neurons, as well as of the synaptic impairments and cognitive deficits. These findings suggest that the pathological effects of apoE4 in vivo are associated with decreased activation of ABCA1 and impaired lipidation of apoE4 and that the downstream brain-related pathology and cognitive deficits can be counteracted by treatment with the ABCA1 agonist CS-6253. These findings have important clinical ramifications and put forward ABCA1 as a promising target for apoE4-related treatment of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1219-1233
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • ABCA1
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • CS-6253
  • apoE
  • lipidation
  • lipids


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