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Mol Ther. 2009 Sep;17(9):1563-73. doi: 10.1038/mt.2009.123. Epub 2009 Jun 16.

Allele-specific RNAi mitigates phenotypic progression in a transgenic model of Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.


Despite recent advances suggesting new therapeutic targets, Alzheimer's disease (AD) remains incurable. Aberrant production and accumulation of the Abeta peptide resulting from altered processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) is central to the pathogenesis of disease, particularly in dominantly inherited forms of AD. Thus, modulating the production of APP is a potential route to effective AD therapy. Here, we describe the successful use of an allele-specific RNA interference (RNAi) approach targeting the Swedish variant of APP (APPsw) in a transgenic mouse model of AD. Using recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV), we delivered an anti-APPsw short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) to the hippocampus of AD transgenic mice (APP/PS1). In short- and long-term transduction experiments, reduced levels of APPsw transprotein were observed throughout targeted regions of the hippocampus while levels of wild-type murine APP remained unaltered. Moreover, intracellular production of transfer RNA (tRNA)-valine promoter-driven shRNAs did not lead to detectable neuronal toxicity. Finally, long-term bilateral hippocampal expression of anti-APPsw shRNA mitigated abnormal behaviors in this mouse model of AD. The difference in phenotype progression was associated with reduced levels of soluble Abeta but not with a reduced number of amyloid plaques. Our results support the development of allele-specific RNAi strategies to treat familial AD and other dominantly inherited neurodegenerative diseases.

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