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Exp Cell Res. 2003 Jun 10;286(2):241-51.

Upregulation and antiapoptotic role of endogenous Alzheimer amyloid precursor protein in dorsal root ganglion neurons.

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Division of Regulation of Macromolecular Functions, Osaka University, Yamadaoka 3-2, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


The amyloid precursor protein (APP) is a transmembrane protein whose abnormal processing is associated with the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. In this study, we examined the expression and role of cell-associated APP in primary dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. When dissociated DRG cells prepared from mouse embryos were treated with nerve growth factor (NGF), neuronal APP levels were transiently elevated. DRG neurons treated with an antibody against cell surface APP failed to mature and underwent apoptosis. When NGF was withdrawn from the cultures after a 36-h NGF treatment, virtually all neurons underwent apoptosis by 48 h. During the course of apoptosis, some neurons with intact morphology contained increased levels of APP immunoreactivity, whereas the APP levels were greatly reduced in apoptotic neurons. Furthermore, affected neurons contained immunoreactivities for activated caspase-3, a caspase-cleaved APP fragment (APPDeltaC31), and Abeta. Downregulation of endogenous APP expression by treatment with an APP antisense oligodeoxynucleotide significantly increased the number of apoptotic neurons in NGF-deprived DRG cultures. Furthermore, overexpression of APP by adenovirus vector-mediated gene transfer reduced the number of apoptotic neurons deprived of NGF. These results suggest that endogenous APP is upregulated to exert an antiapoptotic effect on neurotrophin-deprived DRG neurons and subsequently undergoes caspase-dependent proteolysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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