Alzheimer's disease: clues from flies and worms.
Presenilin mutations give rise to familial Alzheimer's disease and result in elevated production of amyloid beta peptide. Recent evidence that presenilins act in developmental signalling pathways may be the key to understanding how senile plaques, neurofibrillary tangles and apoptosis are all biochemically linked. (+info)
Parametric mapping of cerebral blood flow deficits in Alzheimer's disease: a SPECT study using HMPAO and image standardization technique.
This study assessed the accuracy and reliability of Automated Image Registration (AIR) for standardization of brain SPECT images of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Standardized cerebral blood flow (CBF) images of patients with AD and control subjects were then used for group comparison and covariance analyses. METHODS: Thirteen patients with AD at an early stage (age 69.8+/-7.1 y, Clinical Dementia Rating Score 0.5-1.0, Mini-Mental State Examination score 19-23) and 20 age-matched normal subjects (age 69.5+/-8.3 y) participated in this study. 99mTc-hexamethyl propylenamine oxime (HMPAO) brain SPECT and CT scans were acquired for each subject. SPECT images were transformed to a standard size and shape with the help of AIR. Accuracy of AIR for spatial normalization was evaluated by an index calculated on SPECT images. Anatomical variability of standardized target images was evaluated by measurements on corresponding CT scans, spatially normalized using transformations established by the SPECT images. Realigned brain SPECT images of patients and controls were used for group comparison with the help of statistical parameter mapping. Significant differences were displayed on the respective voxel to generate three-dimensional Z maps. CT scans of individual subjects were evaluated by a computer program for brain atrophy. Voxel-based covariance analysis was performed on standardized images with ages and atrophy indices as independent variables. RESULTS: Inaccuracy assessed by functional data was 2.3%. The maximum anatomical variability was 4.9 mm after standardization. Z maps showed significantly decreased regional CBF (rCBF) in the frontal, parietal and temporal regions in the patient group (P < 0.001). Covariance analysis revealed that the effects of aging on rCBF were more pronounced compared with atrophy, especially in intact cortical areas at an early stage of AD. Decrease in rCBF was partly due to senility and atrophy, however these two factors cannot explain all the deficits. CONCLUSION: AIR can transform SPECT images of AD patients with acceptable accuracy without any need for corresponding structural images. The frontal regions of the brain, in addition to parietal and temporal lobes, may show reduced CBF in patients with AD even at an early stage of dementia. The reduced rCBF in the cortical regions cannot be explained entirely by advanced atrophy and fast aging process. (+info)
Proteolytic processing of the Alzheimer's disease amyloid precursor protein within its cytoplasmic domain by caspase-like proteases.
Alzheimer's disease is characterized by neurodegeneration and deposition of betaA4, a peptide that is proteolytically released from the amyloid precursor protein (APP). Missense mutations in the genes coding for APP and for the polytopic membrane proteins presenilin (PS) 1 and PS2 have been linked to familial forms of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Overexpression of presenilins, especially that of PS2, induces increased susceptibility for apoptosis that is even more pronounced in cells expressing presenilin mutants. Additionally, presenilins themselves are targets for activated caspases in apoptotic cells. When we analyzed APP in COS-7 cells overexpressing PS2, we observed proteolytic processing close to the APP carboxyl terminus. Proteolytic conversion was increased in the presence of PS2-I, which encodes one of the known PS2 pathogenic mutations. The same proteolytic processing occurred in cells treated with chemical inducers of apoptosis, suggesting a participation of activated caspases in the carboxyl-terminal truncation of APP. This was confirmed by showing that specific caspase inhibitors blocked the apoptotic conversion of APP. Sequence analysis of the APP cytosolic domain revealed a consensus motif for group III caspases ((IVL)ExD). Mutation of the corresponding Asp664 residue abolished cleavage, thereby identifying APP as a target molecule for caspase-like proteases in the pathways of programmed cellular death. (+info)
Microvessels from Alzheimer's disease brains kill neurons in vitro.
Understanding the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease is of widespread interest because it is an increasingly prevalent disorder that is progressive, fatal, and currently untreatable. The dementia of Alzheimer's disease is caused by neuronal cell death. We demonstrate for the first time that blood vessels isolated from the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients can directly kill neurons in vitro. Either direct co-culture of Alzheimer's disease microvessels with neurons or incubation of cultured neurons with conditioned medium from microvessels results in neuronal cell death. In contrast, vessels from elderly nondemented donors are significantly (P<0.001) less lethal and brain vessels from younger donors are not neurotoxic. Neuronal killing by either direct co-culture with Alzheimer's disease microvessels or conditioned medium is dose- and time-dependent. Neuronal death can occur by either apoptotic or necrotic mechanisms. The microvessel factor is neurospecific, killing primary cortical neurons, cerebellar granule neurons, and differentiated PC-12 cells, but not non-neuronal cell types or undifferentiated PC-12 cells. Appearance of the neurotoxic factor is decreased by blocking microvessel protein synthesis with cycloheximide. The neurotoxic factor is soluble and likely a protein, because its activity is heat labile and trypsin sensitive. These findings implicate a novel mechanism of vascular-mediated neuronal cell death in Alzheimer's disease. (+info)
Specific regional transcription of apolipoprotein E in human brain neurons.
In central nervous system injury and disease, apolipoprotein E (APOE, gene; apoE, protein) might be involved in neuronal injury and death indirectly through extracellular effects and/or more directly through intracellular effects on neuronal metabolism. Although intracellular effects could clearly be mediated by neuronal uptake of extracellular apoE, recent experiments in injury models in normal rodents and in mice transgenic for the human APOE gene suggest the additional possibility of intraneuronal synthesis. To examine whether APOE might be synthesized by human neurons, we performed in situ hybridization on paraffin-embedded and frozen brain sections from three nondemented controls and five Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients using digoxigenin-labeled antisense and sense cRNA probes to human APOE. Using the antisense APOE probes, we found the expected strong hybridization signal in glial cells as well as a generally fainter signal in selected neurons in cerebral cortex and hippocampus. In hippocampus, many APOE mRNA-containing neurons were observed in sectors CA1 to CA4 and the granule cell layer of the dentate gyrus. In these regions, APOE mRNA containing neurons could be observed adjacent to nonhybridizing neurons of the same cell class. APOE mRNA transcription in neurons is regionally specific. In cerebellar cortex, APOE mRNA was seen only in Bergmann glial cells and scattered astrocytes but not in Purkinje cells or granule cell neurons. ApoE immunocytochemical localization in semi-adjacent sections supported the selectivity of APOE transcription. These results demonstrate the expected result that APOE mRNA is transcribed and expressed in glial cells in human brain. The important new finding is that APOE mRNA is also transcribed and expressed in many neurons in frontal cortex and human hippocampus but not in neurons of cerebellar cortex from the same brains. This regionally specific human APOE gene expression suggests that synthesis of apoE might play a role in regional vulnerability of neurons in AD. These results also provide a direct anatomical context for hypotheses proposing a role for apoE isoforms on neuronal cytoskeletal stability and metabolism. (+info)
Increased phosphoglycerate kinase in the brains of patients with Down's syndrome but not with Alzheimer's disease.
Impaired glucose metabolism in Down's syndrome (DS) has been well-documented in vivo, although information on the underlying biochemical defect is limited and no biochemical studies on glucose handling enzymes have been carried out in the brain. Through gene hunting in fetal DS brain we found an overexpressed sequence homologous to the phosphoglycerate kinase (PGK) gene. This finding was studied further by investigating the activity levels of this key enzyme of carbohydrate metabolism in the brains of patients with DS. PGK activity was determined in five brain regions of nine patients with DS, nine patients with Alzheimer's disease and 14 controls. PGK activity was significantly elevated in the frontal, occipital and temporal lobe and in the cerebellum of patients with DS. PGK activity in corresponding brain regions of patients with Alzheimer's disease was comparable with controls. We conclude that our findings complement previously published data on impaired brain glucose metabolism in DS evaluated by positron emission tomography in clinical studies. Furthermore, we show that in DS, impaired glucose metabolism, represented by increased PGK activity, is a specific finding rather than a secondary phenomenon simply due to neurodegeneration or atrophy. These observations are also supported by data from subtractive hybridization, showing overexpressed PGK in DS brains at the transcriptional level early in life. (+info)
Translation of the alzheimer amyloid precursor protein mRNA is up-regulated by interleukin-1 through 5'-untranslated region sequences.
The amyloid precursor protein (APP) has been associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) because APP is processed into the beta-peptide that accumulates in amyloid plaques, and APP gene mutations can cause early onset AD. Inflammation is also associated with AD as exemplified by increased expression of interleukin-1 (IL-1) in microglia in affected areas of the AD brain. Here we demonstrate that IL-1alpha and IL-1beta increase APP synthesis by up to 6-fold in primary human astrocytes and by 15-fold in human astrocytoma cells without changing the steady-state levels of APP mRNA. A 90-nucleotide sequence in the APP gene 5'-untranslated region (5'-UTR) conferred translational regulation by IL-1alpha and IL-1beta to a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter gene. Steady-state levels of transfected APP(5'-UTR)/CAT mRNAs were unchanged, whereas both base-line and IL-1-dependent CAT protein synthesis were increased. This APP mRNA translational enhancer maps from +55 to +144 nucleotides from the 5'-cap site and is homologous to related translational control elements in the 5'-UTR of the light and and heavy ferritin genes. Enhanced translation of APP mRNA provides a mechanism by which IL-1 influences the pathogenesis of AD. (+info)
Early phenotypic changes in transgenic mice that overexpress different mutants of amyloid precursor protein in brain.
Transgenic mice overexpressing different forms of amyloid precursor protein (APP), i.e. wild type or clinical mutants, displayed an essentially comparable early phenotype in terms of behavior, differential glutamatergic responses, deficits in maintenance of long term potentiation, and premature death. The cognitive impairment, demonstrated in F1 hybrids of the different APP transgenic lines, was significantly different from nontransgenic littermates as early as 3 months of age. Biochemical analysis of secreted and membrane-bound APP, C-terminal "stubs," and Abeta(40) and Abeta(42) peptides in brain indicated that no single intermediate can be responsible for the complex of phenotypic dysfunctions. As expected, the Abeta(42) levels were most prominent in APP/London transgenic mice and correlated directly with the formation of amyloid plaques in older mice of this line. Plaques were associated with immunoreactivity for hyperphosphorylated tau, eventually signaling some form of tau pathology. In conclusion, the different APP transgenic mouse lines studied display cognitive deficits and phenotypic traits early in life that dissociated in time from the formation of amyloid plaques and will be good models for both early and late neuropathological and clinical aspects of Alzheimer's disease. (+info)