mTOR inhibition enhances synaptic and mitochondrial function in Alzheimer’s disease in an APOE genotype-dependent manner

Basavaraju G. Sanganahalli, Jelena M. Mihailovic, Hemendra J. Vekaria, Daniel Coman, Andrew T. Yackzan, Abeoseh Flemister, Chetan Aware, Kathryn Wenger, W. Brad Hubbard, Patrick Sullivan, Fahmeed Hyder, Ai-Ling Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Apolipoprotein ε4 (APOE4) carriers develop brain metabolic dysfunctions decades before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A goal of the study is to identify if rapamycin, an inhibitor for the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor, would enhance synaptic and mitochondrial function in asymptomatic mice with human APOE4 gene (E4FAD) before they showed metabolic deficits. A second goal is to determine whether there may be genetic-dependent responses to rapamycin when compared to mice with human APOE3 alleles (E3FAD), a neutral AD genetic risk factor. We fed asymptomatic E4FAD and E3FAD mice with control or rapamycin diets for 16 weeks from starting from 3 months of age. Neuronal mitochondrial oxidative metabolism and excitatory neurotransmission rates were measured using in vivo 1H-[13C] proton-observed carbon-edited magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and isolated mitochondrial bioenergetic measurements using Seahorse. We found that rapamycin enhanced neuronal mitochondrial function, glutamate-glutamine cycling, and TCA cycle rates in the asymptomatic E4FAD mice. In contrast, rapamycin enhances glycolysis, non-neuronal activities, and inhibitory neurotransmission of the E3FAD mice. These findings indicate that rapamycin might be able to mitigate the risk for AD by enhancing brain metabolic functions for cognitively intact APOE4 carriers, and the responses to rapamycin are varied by APOE genotypes. Consideration of precision medicine may be needed for future rapamycin therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • APOE4
  • mitochondrial function
  • Rapamycin
  • synaptic activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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