Background: Disturbances in clock genes affect almost all patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), as evidenced by their altered sleep/wake cycle, thermoregulation, and exacerbation of cognitive impairment. As microglia-mediated neuroinflammation proved to be a driver of AD rather than a result of the disease, in this study, we evaluated the relationship between clock gene disturbance and neuroinflammation in microglia and their contribution to the onset of AD. Methods: In this study, the expression of clock genes and inflammatory-related genes was examined in MACS microglia isolated from 2-month-old amyloid precursor protein knock-in (APP-KI) and wild-type (WT) mice using cap analysis gene expression (CAGE) deep sequencing and RT-PCR. The effects of clock gene disturbance on neuroinflammation and relevant memory changes were examined in 2-month-old APP-KI and WT mice after injection with SR9009 (a synthetic agonist for REV-ERB). The microglia morphology was studied by staining, neuroinflammation was examined by Western blotting, and cognitive changes were examined by Y-maze and novel object recognition tests. Results: CLOCK/BMAL1-driven transcriptional negative feedback loops were impaired in the microglia from 2-month-old APP-KI mice. Pro-inflammatory genes in microglia isolated from APP-KI mice were significantly higher than those isolated from WT mice at Zeitgeber time 14. The expression of pro-inflammatory genes was positively associated with NF-κB activation and negatively associated with the BMAL1 expression. SR9009 induced the activation of microglia, the increased expression of pro-inflammatory genes, and cognitive decline in 2-month-old APP-KI mice. Conclusion: Clock gene disturbance in microglia is involved in the early onset of AD through the induction of chronic neuroinflammation, which may be a new target for preventing or slowing AD.
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