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      Dopamine D2 receptor antagonism suppresses tau aggregation and neurotoxicity.

      Biological Psychiatry
      Animals, Animals, Genetically Modified, Behavior, Animal, drug effects, physiology, Caenorhabditis elegans, genetics, metabolism, Dopamine Antagonists, administration & dosage, pharmacology, Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Drug Evaluation, Preclinical, Nerve Degeneration, Neurotoxicity Syndromes, Tauopathies, tau Proteins

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          Tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia, are diseases characterized by the formation of pathological tau protein aggregates in the brain and progressive neurodegeneration. Presently no effective disease-modifying treatments exist for tauopathies. To identify drugs targeting tau neurotoxicity, we have used a Caenorhabditis elegans model of tauopathy to screen a drug library containing 1120 compounds approved for human use for the ability to suppress tau-induced behavioral effects. One compound, the typical antipsychotic azaperone, improved the motility of tau transgenic worms, reduced levels of insoluble tau, and was protective against neurodegeneration. We found that azaperone reduces insoluble tau in a human cell culture model of tau aggregation and that other antipsychotic drugs (flupenthixol, perphenazine, and zotepine) also ameliorate the effects of tau expression in both models. Reduction of dopamine signaling through the dopamine D2 receptor with the use of gene knockouts in Caenorhabditis elegans or RNA interference knockdown in human cell culture has similar protective effects against tau toxicity. These results suggest dopamine D2 receptor antagonism holds promise as a potential neuroprotective strategy for targeting tau aggregation and neurotoxicity. Published by Elsevier Inc.

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