Both insulin signaling disruption and Ca2+ dysregulation are closely related to memory loss during aging and increase the vulnerability to Alzheimer's disease (AD). In hippocampal neurons, aging-related changes in calcium regulatory pathways have been shown to lead to higher intracellular calcium levels and an increase in the Ca2+-dependent afterhyperpolarization (AHP), which is associated with cognitive decline. Recent studies suggest that insulin reduces the Ca2+-dependent AHP. Given the sensitivity of neurons to insulin and evidence that brain insulin signaling is reduced with age, insulin-mediated alterations in calcium homeostasis may underlie the beneficial actions of insulin in the brain. Indeed, increasing insulin signaling in the brain via intranasal delivery has yielded promising results such as improving memory in both clinical and animal studies. However, while several mechanisms have been proposed, few have focused on regulation on intracellular Ca2+. In the present study, we further examined the effects of acute insulin on calcium pathways in primary hippocampal neurons in culture. Using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique, we found that acute insulin delivery reduced voltage-gated calcium currents. Fura-2 imaging was used to also address acute insulin effects on spontaneous and depolarization-mediated Ca2+ transients. Results indicate that insulin reduced Ca2+ transients, which appears to have involved a reduction in ryanodine receptor function. Together, these results suggest insulin regulates pathways that control intracellular Ca2+ which may reduce the AHP and improve memory. This may be one mechanism contributing to improved memory recall in response to intranasal insulin therapy in the clinic.

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Published in Neuroscience, v. 364, p. 130-142.

© 2017 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

This manuscript version is made available under the CC‐BY‐NC‐ND 4.0 license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

The document available for download is the author's post-peer-review final draft of the article.

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This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health research grant to OT (R01AG033649) and a training grant to HF (T32DK007778).