Serum Corticosterone and Insulin Resistance as Early Biomarkers in the hAPP23 Overexpressing Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease

Jhana O. Hendrickx, Sofie De Moudt, Elke Calus, Wim Martinet, Pieter-Jan D. F. Guns, Lynn Roth, Peter P. De Deyn, Debby Van Dam, Guido R. Y. De Meyer*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Increasing epidemiological evidence highlights the association between systemic insulin resistance and Alzheimer's disease (AD). As insulin resistance can be caused by high-stress hormone levels and since hypercortisolism appears to be an important risk factor of AD, we aimed to investigate the systemic insulin functionality and circulating stress hormone levels in a mutant humanized amyloid precursor protein (APP) overexpressing (hAPP23+/-) AD mouse model. Memory and spatial learning of male hAPP23+/- and C57BL/6 (wild type, WT) mice were assessed by a Morris Water Maze (MWM) test at the age of 4 and 12 months. The systemic metabolism was examined by intraperitoneal glucose and insulin tolerance tests (GTT, ITT). Insulin and corticosterone levels were determined in serum. In the hippocampus, parietal and occipital cortex of hAPP23+/- brains, amyloid-beta (A beta) deposits were present at 12 months of age. MWM demonstrated a cognitive decline in hAPP23+/- mice at 12 but not at 4 months, evidenced by increasing total path lengths and deteriorating probe trials compared to WT mice. hAPP23+/- animals presented increased serum corticosterone levels compared to WT mice at both 4 and 12 months. hAPP23+/- mice exhibited peripheral insulin resistance compared to WT mice at 4 months, which stabilized at 12 months of age. Serum insulin levels were similar between genotypes at 4 months of age but were significantly higher in hAPP23+/- mice at 12 months of age. Peripheral glucose homeostasis remained unchanged. These results indicate that peripheral insulin resistance combined with elevated circulating stress hormone levels could be potential biomarkers of the pre-symptomatic phase of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6656
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 22-Jun-2021


  • hypercortisolism
  • insulin resistance
  • hypermetabolism
  • cognitive decline
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • APP23
  • RISK

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