The effect of insulin deficiency on tau and neurofilament in the insulin knockout mouse

Ruben Schechter, Delia Beju, Kenneth E. Miller

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58 Scopus citations


Complications of diabetes mellitus within the nervous system are peripheral and central neuropathy. In peripheral neuropathy, defects in neurofilament and microtubules have been demonstrated. In this study, we examined the effects of insulin deficiency within the brain in insulin knockout mice (I(-/-)). The I(-/-) exhibited hyperphosphorylation of tau, at threonine 231, and neurofilament. In addition, we showed hyperphosphorylation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and glycogen synthase kinase 3 β (GSK-3 β) at serine 9. Extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 (ERK 1) showed decrease in phosphorylation, whereas ERK 2 showed no changes. Ultrastructural examination demonstrated swollen mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and Golgi apparatus, and dispersion of the nuclear chromatin. Microtubules showed decrease in the number of intermicrotubule bridges and neurofilament presented as bunches. Thus, lack of insulin brain stimulation induces JNK hyperphosphorylation followed by hyperphosphorylation of tau and neurofilament, and ultrastructural cellular damage, that over time may induce decrease in cognition and learning disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-986
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - 9 Sep 2005


  • Brain
  • Diabetes
  • ERK
  • Electron microscopy
  • GSK-3
  • Insulin
  • Insulin knockout mice
  • JNK
  • Neurofilament
  • Tau


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