TrkB activation by 7, 8-dihydroxyflavone increases synapse AMPA subunits and ameliorates spatial memory deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Lei Gao, Mi Tian, Hong Yun Zhao, Qian Qian Xu, Yu Ming Huang, Qun Cao Si, Qing Tian, Qing Ming Wu, Xia Min Hu, Li Bo Sun, Shawn M. McClintock, Yan Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


We recently demonstrated that activation of tyrosine receptor kinase B (TrkB) by 7, 8-dihydroxyflavone (7, 8-DHF), the selective TrkB agonist, increased surface alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid (AMPA) receptors (AMPARs) AMPA receptor subunit GluR1 (GluA1) subunit expression at the synapses of Fragile X Syndrome mutant mice. This present study investigated the effects of 7, 8-DHF on both memory function and synapse structure in relation to the synapse protein level of AMPARs in the Tg2576 Alzheimer's disease (AD) mouse model. The study found that chronic oral administration of 7, 8-DHF significantly improved spatial memory and minimized dendrite loss in the hippocampus of Tg2576 mice. A key feature of 7, 8-DHF action was the increased expression of both GluA1 and GluA2 at synapses. Interestingly, 7, 8-DHF had no effect on the attenuation of amyloid precursor protein or Aβ exhibiting in the Tg2576 AD brains, yet it activated the phosphorylation of TrkB receptors and its downstream signals including CaMKII, Akt, Erk1/2, and cAMP-response element-binding protein. Importantly, cyclotraxin B (a TrkB inhibitor), U0126 (a Ras-ERK pathway inhibitor), Wortmannin (an Akt phosphorylation inhibitor), and KN-93 (a CaMKII inhibitor) counteracted the enhanced expression and phosphorylation of AMPAR subunits induced by 7, 8-DHF. Collectively, our results demonstrated that 7, 8-DHF acted on TrkB and resolved learning and memory impairments in the absence of reduced amyloid in amyloid precursor protein transgenic mice partially through improved synaptic structure and enhanced synaptic AMPARs. The findings suggest that the application of 7, 8-DHF may be a promising new approach to improve cognitive abilities in AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-636
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2016



  • 7, 8-dihydroxyflavone
  • AMPA receptors
  • Tg2576 mouse
  • TrkB signaling
  • cognitive impairment
  • synapse structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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