Glycogen synthase kinase-3 inhibitors: Rescuers of cognitive impairments

Margaret K. King, Marta Pardo, Yuyan Cheng, Kimberlee Downey, Richard S. Jope, Eléonore Beurel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Impairment of cognitive processes is a devastating outcome of many diseases, injuries, and drugs affecting the central nervous system (CNS). Most often, very little can be done by available therapeutic interventions to improve cognitive functions. Here we review evidence that inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3) ameliorates cognitive deficits in a wide variety of animal models of CNS diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, Fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome, Parkinson's disease, spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, traumatic brain injury, and others. GSK3 inhibitors also improve cognition following impairments caused by therapeutic interventions, such as cranial irradiation for brain tumors. These findings demonstrate that GSK3 inhibitors are able to ameliorate cognitive impairments caused by a diverse array of diseases, injury, and treatments. The improvements in impaired cognition instilled by administration of GSK3 inhibitors appear to involve a variety of different mechanisms, such as supporting long-term potentiation and diminishing long-term depression, promotion of neurogenesis, reduction of inflammation, and increasing a number of neuroprotective mechanisms. The potential for GSK3 inhibitors to repair cognitive deficits associated with many conditions warrants further investigation of their potential for therapeutic interventions, particularly considering the current dearth of treatments available to reduce loss of cognitive functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Glycogen synthase kinase-3
  • Learning
  • Lithium
  • LTP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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