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Neurobiol Dis. 2006 Sep;23(3):669-78. Epub 2006 Jul 17.

An endoplasmic-reticulum-specific apoptotic pathway is involved in prion and amyloid-beta peptides neurotoxicity.

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  • 1Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of Coimbra, Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, 3004-504 Coimbra, Portugal.


Prion (PrP) and amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptides are involved in the neuronal loss that occurs in Prion disorders (PrD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD), respectively, partially due to Ca(2+) dysregulation. Besides, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress has an active role in the neurotoxic mechanisms that lead to these pathologies. Here, we analyzed whether the ER-mediated apoptotic pathway is involved in the toxic effect of synthetic PrP and Abeta peptides. In PrP106-126- and Abeta1-40-treated cortical neurons, the release of Ca(2+) through ER ryanodine (RyR) and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP(3)R) receptors induces ER stress and leads to increased cytosolic Ca(2+) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and subsequently to apoptotic death involving mitochondrial cytochrome c release and caspases activation. These results demonstrate that the early PrP- and Abeta-induced perturbation of ER Ca(2+) homeostasis is a death message that leads to neuronal loss, suggesting that the regulation of ER Ca(2+) levels may be a potential therapeutical target for PrD and AD.

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