Suvorexant has been shown to acutely reduce tau phosphorylation and amyloid-β concentrations in the central nervous system of cognitively healthy subjects. The drug, which has already been approved by the US FDA for the treatment of insomnia, could potentially be reused for the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
In Alzheimer’s disease, hyperphosphorylated tau is associated with the formation of tau tangles. These, in turn, are associated with neuronal loss and cognitive symptoms.
In the study, 38 cognitively healthy participants aged 45 to 65 years were randomized to placebo (n = 13), suvorexant 10 mg (n = 13), or suvorexant 20 mg (n = 12). The ratio of phosphorylated-tau-threonine-181 to non-phosphorylated-tau-threonine-181, a measure of phosphorylation, decreased 10% to 15% in participants treated with suvorexant 20 mg compared to placebo.
However, the phosphorylation of tau-serine-202 and tau-threonine-217 was not reduced by suvorexant. Suvorexant lowered amyloid-β by 10% to 20% compared to placebo from 5 hours after administration.
Further research is needed to determine whether suvorexant can indeed be used as a chronic treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
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