AKT2 Maintains Brain Endothelial Claudin-5 Expression and Selective Activation of IR/AKT2/FOXO1-Signaling Reverses Barrier Dysfunction

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Inflammation-induced blood–brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction and microvascular leakage are associated with a host of neurological disorders. The tight junction protein claudin-5 (CLDN5) is a crucial protein necessary for BBB integrity and maintenance. CLDN5 is negatively regulated by the transcriptional repressor FOXO1, whose activity increases during impaired insulin/AKT signaling. Owing to an incomplete understanding of the mechanisms that regulate CLDN5 expression in BBB maintenance and dysfunction, therapeutic interventions remain underdeveloped. Here, we show a novel isoform-specific function for AKT2 in maintenance of BBB integrity. We identified that AKT2 during homeostasis specifically regulates CLDN5-dependent barrier integrity in brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMVECs) and that intervention with a selective insulin-receptor (IR) agonist, demethylasterriquinone B1 (DMAQ-B1), rescued IL-1β-induced AKT2 inactivation, FOXO1 nuclear accumulation, and loss of CLDN5-dependent barrier integrity. Moreover, DMAQ-B1 attenuated preclinical CLDN5-dependent BBB dysfunction in mice subjected to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Taken together, the data suggest a regulatory role for IR/AKT2/FOXO1-signaling in CLDN5 expression and BBB integrity during neuroinflammation.