Advanced Glycation End-Product Precursor Methylglyoxal May Lead to Development of Alzheimer’s Disease

Wai Yin Li, Cheuk Yan Lee, Kwan Ming Lee, Ge Zhang, Aiping Lyu, Kevin Kin Man Yue*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Diabetes mellitus (DM) is characterized by chronic hyperglycemia and diabetic complications. Exacerbated cortical neuronal degeneration was observed in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients with DM. In fact, DM is now considered a risk factor of AD, as DM-induced activation of stress responses in the central nervous system (CNS) such as oxidative stress and neuroin-flammation may lead to various neurodegenerative disorders. Methylglyoxal (MG) is one of the most reactive advanced glycation end-product (AGE) precursors. Abnormal accumulation of MG is observed in the serum of diabetic patients. As MG is reported to promote brain cells impairment in the CNS, and it is found that AGEs are abnormally increased in the brains of AD patients. Therefore, the effect of MG causing subsequent symptoms of AD was investigated. 

Methods: 5-week-old C57BL/6 mice were intraperitoneally injected with MG solution for 11 weeks. The Morris water maze (MWM) was used to examine the spatial learning ability and cognition of mice. After MG treatment, MTT assay, real-time PCR analyses, and Western blot were performed to assess the harvested astrocytes and hippocampi. 

Results: Significantly longer escape latency and reduced percentage time spent in the target quadrant were observed in the 9-week-MG-treated mice. We have found in both in vitro and in vivo models that MG induced astrogliosis, pro-inflammatory cytokines, AD-related markers, and ERK activation. Further, trend of normalization of the tested markers mRNA expressions were observed after ERK inhibition. 

Conclusion: Our in vivo results suggested that MG could induce AD symptoms and in vitro results implied that ERK may regulate the promotion of inflammation and Aβ formation in MG-induced reactive astrocytes. Taken together, MG may participate in the dysfunction of brain cells resulting in possible diabetes-related neurodegeneration by promoting astrogliosis, Aβ production, and neuroinflammation through the ERK pathway. Our findings provide insight of targeting ERK as a therapeutic application for diabetes-induced AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3153-3166
Number of pages14
JournalDiabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Pharmacology

User-Defined Keywords

  • diabetes
  • hyperglycemia
  • complications
  • advanced glycation end products
  • astrocytes
  • pathways Introduction


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