Regional glucose hypometabolism is a defining feature of Alzheimer disease (AD). One emerging link between glucose hypometabolism and progression of AD is the nutrient-responsive post-translational O-GlcNAcylation of nucleocytoplasmic proteins. O-GlcNAc is abundant in neurons and occurs on both tau and amyloid precursor protein. Increased brain O-GlcNAcylation protects against tau and amyloid-β peptide toxicity. Decreased O-GlcNAcylation occurs in AD, suggesting that glucose hypometabolism may impair the protective roles of O-GlcNAc within neurons and enable neurodegeneration. Here, we review how O-GlcNAc may link cerebral glucose hypometabolism to progression of AD and summarize data regarding the protective role of O-GlcNAc in AD models.

Source: Zhu, Y., Shan, X., Yuzwa, S.A. & Vocadlo, D.J. J Biol Chem 289, 34472-81 (2014).