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Glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β), a serine/threonine protein kinase, is widely distributed in mammalian brains. Since GSK-3β plays a vital role in the development of neurodegenerative disorders, the present study was designed to investigate the role of GSK-3β in the blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability in aged mice. Morris water maze test was used to examine mouse cognitive function. BBB permeability was examined by the leakage of fluorescence signals of low-molecular weight dextran. GSK-3β inhibitor, 4-benzyl-2-methyl-1,2,4-thiadiazolidine-3,5-dione (TDZD-8), was administrated in aged mice and in cultured mouse brain microvascular endothelial cells (bEnd.3). Compared with young mice, aged mice had increased leftover signals of dextran in the hippocampus and a lower score in the maze test, suggesting that aged mice have abnormal leakage of BBB and cognitive dysfunction. The protein expression of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) was increased, whereas the protein expressions of junction proteins (claudin1 and claudin5) were reduced in endothelial cells of BBB in aged mice. Phosphorylated level of serine 9, an inhibitory residue in GSK-3β protein, was decreased. TDZD-8 treatment downregulated TLR4 protein expression, upregulated claudin1 and claudin5 protein expressions, and significantly improved cognitive function in aged mice. In bEnd.3 cells, TDZD-8 treatment reduced TLR4 expression and increased claudin5 expression in cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharides. In conclusion, the inhibition of GSK-3β activity downregulates aging-induced TLR4 expression and restores the BBB integrity, resulting in the improvement of cognitive function in aged mice. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


Tao Liang, Huihui Ju, Yile Zhou, Yajie Yang, Yi Shi, Hao Fang. Inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3β improves cognitive function in aged mice by upregulating claudin presences in cerebral endothelial cells. Acta biochimica et biophysica Sinica. 2020 Apr 20;52(4):363-370

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PMID: 32141492

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