Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia worldwide and is characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive functions. Accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are a typical feature of AD neuropathological changes. The entorhinal cortex (EC) is the first brain area associated with pathologic changes in AD, even preceding atrophy of the hippocampus. In the current study, we have performed a meta-analysis of publicly available expression data sets of the entorhinal cortex (EC) in order to identify potential pathways underlying AD pathology. The meta-analysis identified 1915 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between the EC from normal and AD patients. Among the downregulated DEGs, we found a significant enrichment of biological processes pertaining to the "neuronal system" (R-HSA-112316) and the "synaptic signaling" (GO:0099536), while the "regulation of protein catabolic process" (GO:00042176) and "transport of small molecules" (R-HSA-382551) resulted in enrichment among both the upregulated and downregulated DEGs. Finally, by means of an in silico pharmacology approach, we have prioritized drugs and molecules potentially able to revert the transcriptional changes associated with AD pathology. The drugs with a mostly anti-correlated signature were: efavirenz, an anti-retroviral drug; tacrolimus, a calcineurin inhibitor; and sirolimus, an mTOR inhibitor. Among the predicted drugs, those potentially able to cross the blood-brain barrier have also been identified. Overall, our study found a disease-specific set of dysfunctional biological pathways characterizing the EC in AD patients and identified a set of drugs that could in the future be exploited as potential therapeutic strategies. The approach used in the current study has some limitations, as it does not account for possible post-transcriptional events regulating the cellular phenotype, and also, much clinical information about the samples included in the meta-analysis was not available. However, despite these limitations, our study sets the basis for future investigations on the pathogenetic processes occurring in AD and proposes the repurposing of currently used drugs for the treatment of AD patients.

Characterization of Altered Molecular Pathways in the Entorhinal Cortex of Alzheimer's Disease Patients and In Silico Prediction of Potential Repurposable Drugs

Fagone, Paolo;Mangano, Katia;Martino, Gabriella;Quattropani, Maria Catena;Pennisi, Manuela;Bella, Rita;Fisicaro, Francesco;Nicoletti, Ferdinando;Petralia, Maria Cristina
2022

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia worldwide and is characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive functions. Accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are a typical feature of AD neuropathological changes. The entorhinal cortex (EC) is the first brain area associated with pathologic changes in AD, even preceding atrophy of the hippocampus. In the current study, we have performed a meta-analysis of publicly available expression data sets of the entorhinal cortex (EC) in order to identify potential pathways underlying AD pathology. The meta-analysis identified 1915 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between the EC from normal and AD patients. Among the downregulated DEGs, we found a significant enrichment of biological processes pertaining to the "neuronal system" (R-HSA-112316) and the "synaptic signaling" (GO:0099536), while the "regulation of protein catabolic process" (GO:00042176) and "transport of small molecules" (R-HSA-382551) resulted in enrichment among both the upregulated and downregulated DEGs. Finally, by means of an in silico pharmacology approach, we have prioritized drugs and molecules potentially able to revert the transcriptional changes associated with AD pathology. The drugs with a mostly anti-correlated signature were: efavirenz, an anti-retroviral drug; tacrolimus, a calcineurin inhibitor; and sirolimus, an mTOR inhibitor. Among the predicted drugs, those potentially able to cross the blood-brain barrier have also been identified. Overall, our study found a disease-specific set of dysfunctional biological pathways characterizing the EC in AD patients and identified a set of drugs that could in the future be exploited as potential therapeutic strategies. The approach used in the current study has some limitations, as it does not account for possible post-transcriptional events regulating the cellular phenotype, and also, much clinical information about the samples included in the meta-analysis was not available. However, despite these limitations, our study sets the basis for future investigations on the pathogenetic processes occurring in AD and proposes the repurposing of currently used drugs for the treatment of AD patients.
Alzheimer’s disease
entorhinal cortex
in silico pharmacology
meta-analysis
Amyloid beta-Peptides
Atrophy
Hippocampus
Humans
Alzheimer Disease
Entorhinal Cortex
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/541649
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