Riluzole rescues glutamate alterations, cognitive deficits, and tau pathology associated with P301L tau expression

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In the years preceding a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), hyperexcitability of the hippocampus is a commonly observed phenomenon in those at risk for AD. Our previous work suggests a dysregulation in glutamate neurotransmission may mediate this hyperexcitability, and glutamate dysregulation correlates with cognitive deficits in the rTg(TauP301L)4510 mouse model of AD. To determine whether improving glutamate regulation would attenuate cognitive deficits and AD-related pathology, TauP301L mice were treated with riluzole (~ 12.5 mg/kg/day p.o.), an FDA-approved drug for ALS that lowers extracellular glutamate levels. Riluzole-treated TauP301L mice exhibited improved memory performance that was associated with a decrease in glutamate release and an increase in glutamate uptake in the dentate gyrus (DG), cornu ammonis 3(CA3), and cornu ammonis 1(CA1) regions of the hippocampus. Riluzole treatment also attenuated the TauP301L-mediated increase in hippocampal vesicular glutamate transporter (vGLUT1), and the TauP301L-mediated decrease in hippocampal glutamate transporter 1 (GLT-1) and PSD-95 expression. Riluzole treatment also reduced tau pathology. These findings further elucidate the changes in glutamate regulation associated with tau pathology and open new opportunities for the development of clinically applicable therapeutic approaches to regulate glutamate in vulnerable circuits for those at risk for the development of AD.