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J Alzheimers Dis. 2002 Feb;4(1):31-7.

Neuronal apoptosis is accompanied by amyloid beta-protein accumulation in the endoplasmic reticulum.

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  • 1Institute of Human Anatomy, Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Genova, Italy.


A series of evidences suggests that enhanced susceptibility to programmed cell death (PCD) is a major pathogenetic factor in Alzheimer's disease (AD). We investigated this issue, analyzing amyloid beta-protein (A beta) production in a model of neuronal PCD, induced by staurosporine in a murine neuroblastoma cell line. When PCD was induced, a 280-290% secreted A beta occurred, in spite of a 20% metabolism and an unchanged A betaPP expression. The increased intracellular A beta reactivity largely colocalized with a marker of ER. Inhibition of caspases blocked the cleavage at the C-terminus of beta PP, but only partially rescued A beta overproduction caused by staurosporine treatment. Our findings suggest that PCD fosters the physiological pathways of A beta production characteristic of neuronal cells, and they confirm the theory that unbalance of PCD is a central event in AD pathogenesis. Moreover, our data indicate that still unidentified cellular mechanisms, other than caspases activation, are responsible of the specific alteration of A betaPP processing during PCD.

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