Effects of low doses of pioglitazone on resting-state functional connectivity in conscious rat brain.
Pioglitazone (PIO) is a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) agonist in clinical use for treatment of type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Accumulating evidence suggests PPARγ agonists may be useful for treating or delaying the onset of Alzheimer's disease (AD), possibly via actions on mitochondria, and that dose strengths lower than those clinically used for T2DM may be efficacious. Our major objective was to determine if low doses of pioglitazone, administered orally, impacted brain activity. We measured blood-oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) low-frequency fluctuations in conscious rats to map changes in brain resting-state functional connectivity due to daily, oral dosing with low-dose PIO. The connectivity in two neural circuits exhibited significant changes compared with vehicle after two days of treatment with PIO at 0.08 mg/kg/day. After 7 days of treatment with a range of PIO dose-strengths, connections between 17 pairs of brain regions were significantly affected. Functional connectivity with the CA1 region of the hippocampus, a region that is involved in memory and is affected early in the progression of AD, was specifically investigated in a seed-based analysis. This approach revealed that the spatial pattern of CA1 connectivity was consistent among all dose groups at baseline, prior to treatment with PIO, and in the control group imaged on day 7. Compared to baseline and controls, increased connectivity to CA1 was observed regionally in the hypothalamus and ventral thalamus in all PIO-treated groups, but was least pronounced in the group treated with the highest dose of PIO. These data support our hypothesis that PIO modulates neuronal and/or cerebrovascular function at dose strengths significantly lower than those used to treat T2DM and therefore may be a useful therapy for neurodegenerative diseases including AD.
Crenshaw, DG; Asin, K; Gottschalk, WK; Liang, Z; Zhang, N; Roses, AD
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