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Abnormal protein kinase C (PKC) function contributes to many pathophysiological processes relevant for Alzheimer's disease (AD), such as amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing. Phorbol esters and other PKC activators have been demonstrated to enhance the secretion of soluble APPα (sAPPα), reduce the levels of β-amyloid (Aβ), induce synaptogenesis, and promote neuroprotection. We have previously described isophthalate derivatives as a structurally simple family of PKC activators. Here, we characterised the effects of isophthalate derivatives HMI-1a3 and HMI-1b11 on neuronal viability, neuroinflammatory response, processing of APP and dendritic spine density and morphology in in vitro. HMI-1a3 increased the viability of embryonic primary cortical neurons and decreased the production of the pro-inflammatory mediator TNFα, but not that of nitric oxide, in mouse neuron-BV2 microglia co-cultures upon LPS- and IFN-γ-induced neuroinflammation. Furthermore, both HMI-1a3 and HMI-1b11 increased the levels of sAPPα relative to total sAPP and the ratio of Aβ42/Aβ40 in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Finally, bryostatin-1, but not HMI-1a3, increased the number of mushroom spines in proportion to total spine density in mature mouse hippocampal neuron cultures. These results suggest that the PKC activator HMI-1a3 exerts neuroprotective functions in the in vitro models relevant for AD by reducing the production of TNFα and increasing the secretion of neuroprotective sAPPα.HMI-1a3 promotes neuronal viability upon the induction of neuroinflammation.HMI-1a3 decreases the production of the TNFα, but not nitric oxide.HMI-1a3 and HMI-1b11 affect processing and maturation of APP in neuroblastoma cells.Bryostatin-1, but not HMI-1a3, increases the number of mushroom spines in primary neurons.