Reduced TRPC6 mRNA levels in the blood cells of patients with Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment

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Transient receptor potential canonical 6 (TRPC6) inhibits β-amyloid (Aβ) production. Hyperforin, the TRPC6 agonist, reduces Aβ levels and improves cognitive performance in Alzheimer's disease (AD) models. However, it's unknown whether TRPC6 expression is changed in AD patients. In this case-control study, we measured TRPC6 expression levels in the peripheral blood cells of four independent AD sets from five hospitals and one mild cognitive impairment (MCI) set from a local community (229 AD, 70 MCI, 40 Parkinson disease and 359 controls from China, total n = 698) using quantitative real-time PCR assay. We found a specific reduction of TRPC6 mRNA levels in four AD sets and one MCI set. The median TRPC6 mRNA levels were lower in the following: (1) combined AD patients than in age-matched controls (0.78 vs 1.73, P < 0.001); (2) mild-to-moderate AD patients than in age-matched controls (0.81 vs 1.73, P < 0.001); and (3) MCI patients than in age-matched controls (0.76 vs 1.72, P < 0.001). In the receiver-operating characteristic curve analysis, the area under curve was 0.85 for combined AD, 0.84 for mild-to-moderate AD and 0.79 for MCI. In a subgroup of AD patients with brain Aβ examination, TRPC6 was associated with standardized uptake value ratio of Pittsburgh Compound B (Spearman's r = -0.49, P = 0.04) and cerebrospinal fluid Aβ42 (Spearman's r = 0.43, P = 0.04). The TRPC6 reduction in AD patients was further confirmed in blood RNA samples from The Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle Flagship Study of Aging, in post-mortem brain tissues from The Netherlands Brain Bank and in induced pluripotent stem cells-derived neurons from Chinese donors. We conclude that TRPC6 mRNA levels in the blood cells are specifically reduced in AD and MCI patients, and TRPC6 might be a biomarker for the early diagnosis of AD.

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