Neuroprotective effects of p62(SQSTM1)-engineered lactic acid bacteria in Alzheimer's disease: a pre-clinical study.
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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegeneration characterized by neuron death ending in memory and cognitive decline. A major concern in AD research is the identification of new therapeutics that could prevent or delay the onset of the disorder, with current treatments being effective only in reducing symptoms. In this perspective, the use of engineered probiotics as therapeutic tools for the delivery of molecules to eukaryotic cells is finding application in several disorders. This work introduces a new strategy for AD treatment based on the use of a Lactobacilluslactis strain carrying one plasmid (pExu) that contains a eukaryotic expression cassette encoding the human p62 protein. 3xTg-AD mice orally administered with these bacteria for two months showed an increased expression of endogenous p62 in the brain, with a protein delivery mechanism involving both lymphatic vessels and neural terminations, and positive effects on the major AD hallmarks. Mice showed ameliorated memory, modulation of the ubiquitin-proteasome system and autophagy, reduced levels of amyloid peptides, and diminished neuronal oxidative and inflammatory processes. Globally, we demonstrate that these extremely safe, non-pathogenic and non-invasive bacteria used as delivery vehicles for the p62 protein represent an innovative and realistic therapeutic approach in AD.