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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2007 Feb;320(2):552-8. Epub 2006 Nov 10.

The novel gamma secretase inhibitor N-[cis-4-[(4-chlorophenyl)sulfonyl]-4-(2,5-difluorophenyl)cyclohexyl]-1,1,1-trifluoromethanesulfonamide (MRK-560) reduces amyloid plaque deposition without evidence of notch-related pathology in the Tg2576 mouse.

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Department of In Vivo Neuroscience, Merck Sharp And Dohme, Neurosciene Research Centre, Harlow, UK.


There is a substantial body of evidence indicating that beta-amyloid peptides (Abeta) are critical factors in the onset and development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). One strategy for combating AD is to reduce or eliminate the production of Abeta through inhibition of the gamma-secretase enzyme, which cleaves Abeta from the amyloid precursor protein (APP). We demonstrate here that chronic treatment for 3 months with 3 mg/kg of the potent, orally bioavailable and brain-penetrant gamma-secretase inhibitor N-[cis-4-[(4-chlorophenyl)-sulfonyl]-4-(2,5-difluorophenyl)cyclohexyl]-1,1,1-trifluoromethanesulfonamide (MRK-560) attenuates the appearance of amyloid plaques in the Tg2576 mouse. These reductions in plaques were also accompanied by a decrease in the level of reactive gliosis. The morphometric and histological measures agreed with biochemical analysis of Abeta(40) and Abeta(42) in the cortex. Interestingly, the volume of the plaques across treatment groups did not change, indicating that reducing Abeta levels does not significantly alter deposit growth once initiated. Furthermore, we demonstrate that these beneficial effects can be achieved without causing histopathological changes in the ileum, spleen, or thymus as a consequence of blockade of the processing of alternative substrates, such as the Notch family of receptors. This indicates that in vivo a therapeutic window between these substrates seems possible--a key concern in the development of this approach to AD. An understanding of the mechanisms whereby MRK-560 shows differentiation between the APP and Notch proteolytic pathway of gamma-secretase should provide the basis for the next generation of gamma-secretase inhibitors.

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