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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2001 Sep;60(9):906-16.

Neuronal and glial coexpression of argininosuccinate synthetase and inducible nitric oxide synthase in Alzheimer disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Bonn, Germany.


The enzyme argininosuccinate synthetase (ASS) is the rate limiting enzyme in the metabolic pathway leading from L-citrulline to L-arginine, the physiological substrate of all isoforms of nitric oxide synthases (NOS). ASS and inducible NOS (iNOS) expression in neurons and glia was investigated by immunohistochemistry in brains of Alzheimer disease (AD) patients and nondemented, age-matched controls. In 3 areas examined (hippocampus, frontal, and entorhinal cortex), a marked increase in neuronal ASS and iNOS expression was observed in AD brains. GFAP-positive astrocytes expressing ASS were not increased in AD brains versus controls, whereas the number of iNOS expressing GFAP-positive astrocytes was significantly higher in AD brains. Density measurements revealed that ASS expression levels were significantly higher in glial cells of AD brains. Colocalization of ASS and iNOS immunoreactivity was detectable in neurons and glia. Occasionally, both ASS-and iNOS expression was detectable in CD 68-positive activated microglia cells in close proximity to senile plaques. These results suggest that neurons and astrocytes express ASS in human brain constitutively, whereas neuronal and glial ASS expression increases parallel to iNOS expression in AD. Because an adequate supply of L-arginine is indispensable for prolonged NO generation, coinduction of ASS enables cells to sustain NO generation during AD by replenishing necessary supply of L-arginine.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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