The effects of MLC901 on tau phosphorylation

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Tauopathies are neurodegenerative diseases that are characterized by the presence of hyperphosphorylated tau-containing neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in the brain and include Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia, which lack effective disease-modifying treatments. The presence of NFTs is known to correlate with cognition impairment, suggesting that targeting tau hyperphosphorylation may be therapeutically effective. MLC901 is a herbal formulation that is currently used in poststroke recovery and consists of nine herbal components. Previously, several components of MLC901 have been shown to have an effect on tau phosphorylation, but it remains unknown whether MLC901 itself has the same effect. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of MLC901 on ameliorating tau phosphorylation at epitopes associated with NFT formation. A stably transfected cell culture model expressing tau harboring the P301S mutation was generated and treated with various concentrations of MLC901 across different time points. Tau phosphorylation profiles and protein levels of enzymes associated with tau phosphorylation were assessed using western blotting. One-way analysis of variance with Bonferroni post-hoc analysis showed that MLC901 significantly reduced tau phosphorylation at epitopes recognized by the AT8, AT270, and PHF-13 antibodies. MLC901 also induced a significant increase in the s9 phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase 3β and a concurrent decrease in the activation of cyclin-dependent kinase 5, as measured by a significant decrease in the levels of p35/cyclin-dependent kinase 5. Our results provide supporting evidence to further study the effects of MLC901 on tau pathology and cognition using mouse models of tauopathy.

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