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Endogenous Galanin Protects Mouse Hippocampal Neurons Against Amyloid Toxicity in vitro via Activation of Galanin Receptor-2


Expression of the neuropeptide galanin is known to be upregulated in the brain of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). We and others have shown that galanin plays a neuroprotective role in a number of excitotoxic injury paradigms, mediated by activation of the second galanin receptor subtype (GAL2). In the present study, we investigated whether galanin/GAL2 plays a similar protective role against amyloid-β(Aβ) toxicity. Here we report that galanin or the GAL2/3-specific peptide agonist Gal2-11, both equally protect primary dispersed mouse wildtype (WT) neonatal hippocampal neurons from 250 nM Aβ1–42 toxicity in a dose dependent manner. The amount of Aβ1–42 induced cell death was significantly greater in mice with loss-of-function mutations in galanin (Gal-KO) or GAL2 (GAL2-MUT) compared to strain-matched WT controls. Conversely, cell death was significantly reduced in galanin over-expressing (Gal-OE) transgenic mice compared to strain-matched WT controls. Exogenous galanin or Gal2-11 rescued the deficits in the Gal-KO but not the GAL2-MUT cultures, confirming that the protective effects of endogenous or exogenous galanin are mediated by activation of GAL2. Despite the high levels of endogenous galanin in the Gal-OE cultures, the addition of exogenous 100 nM or 50 nM galanin or 100 nM Gal2-11 further significantly reduced cell death, implying that GAL2-mediated neuroprotection is not at maximum in the Gal-OE mice. These data further support the hypothesis that galanin over-expression in AD is a neuroprotective response and imply that the development of a drug-like GAL2 agonist might reduce the progression of symptoms in patients with AD.