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Exp Neurol. 2001 Feb;167(2):385-92.

Alpha 2-macroglobulin-mediated degradation of amyloid beta 1--42: a mechanism to enhance amyloid beta catabolism.

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Institute of Biochemistry, University of Leipzig, Liebigstrasse 16, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.


Peptides derived from proteolytic degradation of the amyloid precursor protein, e.g., amyloid beta (A beta), are considered to be central to the pathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Soluble A beta is present in measurable concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid and blood. There are indications that soluble A beta present in circulation can cross the blood-brain barrier via transcytosis mediated by brain capillary endothelial cells. It implies that A beta originating from circulation may contribute to vascular and parenchymal A beta deposition in AD. Enhancing of A beta catabolism mediated by proteolytic degradation or receptor-mediated endocytosis could be a key mechanism to maintain low concentrations of soluble A beta. To launch A beta clearance we have exploited the A beta-degrading activity of diverse alpha 2-macroglobulin (alpha 2-M)-proteinase complexes. Complexes with trypsin, alpha-chymotrypsin, and bromelain strongly degrade (125)I-A beta 1--42 whereas complexes with endogenous proteinases, e.g., plasmin and prostate-specific antigen, were not effective. A beta degradation by the complexes was not inhibited by alpha 1-antichymotrypsin and soybean trypsin inhibitor which normally would inactivate the free serine proteinases. A prerequisite for A beta degradation is its binding to specific binding sites in alpha 2-M that may direct A beta to the active site of the caged proteinase. Ex vivo, enhanced degradation of (125)I-A beta 1--42 in blood could be achieved upon oral administration of high doses of proteinases to volunteers. These results suggest that up-regulation of A beta catabolism could probably reduce the risk of developing AD by preventing A beta accumulation in brain and vasculature.

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