The sigma-2 receptor is a steroid-binding membrane-associated receptor which has been implicated in cell survival. Sigma-2 has recently been shown to bind amyloid-β (Aβ) oligomers in Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain. Furthermore, blocking this interaction was shown to prevent or reverse the effects of Aβ to cause cognitive impairment in mouse models and synaptic loss in neuronal cultures. In the present work, the density of sigma-2 receptors was measured in a double transgenic mouse model of amyloid-β deposition (APP/PS1). Comparisons were made between males and females and between transgenic and wt animals. Sigma-2 receptor density was assessed by quantitative autoradiography performed on coronal brain slices using [3H]N-[4-(3,4-dihydro-6,7-dimethoxyisoquinolin-2(1H)-yl)butyl]-2-methoxy-5-methyl-benzamide ([3H]RHM-1), which has a 300-fold selectivity for the sigma-2 receptor over the sigma-1 receptor. The translocator protein of 18 kDa (TSPO) is expressed on activated microglia and is a marker for neuroinflammation. TSPO has been found to be upregulated in neurodegenerative disorders, including AD. Therefore, in parallel with the sigma-2 autoradiography experiments, we measured TSPO expression using the selective radioligand, [3H]PBR28. We also quantified Aβ plaque burden in the same animals using a monoclonal antibody raised against aggregated Aβ. Sigma-2 receptor density was significantly decreased in piriform and motor cortices as well as striata of 16-month old female, but not male, APP/PS1 mice as compared to their wt counterparts. [3H]PBR28 binding and immunostaining for Aβ plaques were significantly increased in piriform and motor cortices of both male and female transgenic mice. In striatum however, significant increases were observed only in females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-445
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • PGRMC1
  • Peripheral benzodiazepine receptor
  • Sigma-2 receptor
  • Transgenic mice


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