Novel calcium-related targets of insulin in hippocampal neurons

Shaniya Maimaiti, Hilaree N. Frazier, Katie L. Anderson, Adam O. Ghoweri, Lawrence D. Brewer, Nada M. Porter, Olivier Thibault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Both insulin signaling disruption and Ca2+ dysregulation are closely related to memory loss during aging and increase the vulnerability to Alzheimer's disease (AD). In hippocampal neurons, aging-related changes in calcium regulatory pathways have been shown to lead to higher intracellular calcium levels and an increase in the Ca2+-dependent afterhyperpolarization (AHP), which is associated with cognitive decline. Recent studies suggest that insulin reduces the Ca2+-dependent AHP. Given the sensitivity of neurons to insulin and evidence that brain insulin signaling is reduced with age, insulin-mediated alterations in calcium homeostasis may underlie the beneficial actions of insulin in the brain. Indeed, increasing insulin signaling in the brain via intranasal delivery has yielded promising results such as improving memory in both clinical and animal studies. However, while several mechanisms have been proposed, few have focused on regulation on intracellular Ca2+. In the present study, we further examined the effects of acute insulin on calcium pathways in primary hippocampal neurons in culture. Using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique, we found that acute insulin delivery reduced voltage-gated calcium currents. Fura-2 imaging was used to also address acute insulin effects on spontaneous and depolarization-mediated Ca2+ transients. Results indicate that insulin reduced Ca2+ transients, which appears to have involved a reduction in ryanodine receptor function. Together, these results suggest insulin regulates pathways that control intracellular Ca2+ which may reduce the AHP and improve memory. This may be one mechanism contributing to improved memory recall in response to intranasal insulin therapy in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-142
Number of pages13
StatePublished - Nov 19 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health research grant to OT ( R01AG033649 ) and a training grant to HNF ( T32DK007778 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 IBRO


  • aging
  • diabetes
  • electrophysiology
  • excitability
  • imaging
  • intranasal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)


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