Objective: This study aimed to investigate the regulatory effects of repressor element-1 silencing transcription factor (REST) on the glutamate receptors and immediate early genes (IEGs) in the SH-SY5Y cells.

Methods: The genes regulated by REST were screened by bioinformatics between AD patients and the control group. Then, SH-SY5Y cells were treated with 10 μM Aβ or REST siRNA/cDNA, and the expressions of synaptic genes and IEGs were detected. Moreover, the protein expression of synaptophysin and PSD-95 was detected by Western blotting in the primary mouse hippocampal neurons.

Results: Firstly, 464 differentially expressed genes regulated by REST were identified between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and controls, and REST was closely related to the glutamatergic synapses and long-term potentiation. GRIA1, GRIN2A, GRIN1, and ARC showed significant variations with the changes of REST. Moreover, the loss of REST reduced the expression of synaptophysin and PSD-95, which was related to synaptic plasticity.

Conclusion: REST maintains synaptic plasticity by affecting both glutamate receptors and IEGs, and the imbalance between neural excitation and inhibition mediated by REST compromises neural function, contributing to cognitive impairment.