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J Immunol. 2007 Oct 15;179(8):5493-503.

Proteinase-activated receptor-2 exerts protective and pathogenic cell type-specific effects in Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


The proteinase-activated receptors (PARs) are a novel family of G protein-coupled receptors, and their effects in neurodegenerative diseases remain uncertain. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder defined by misfolded protein accumulation with concurrent neuroinflammation and neuronal death. We report suppression of proteinase-activated receptor-2 (PAR2) expression in neurons of brains from AD patients, whereas PAR2 expression was increased in proximate glial cells, together with up-regulation of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines and reduced IL-4 expression (p < 0.05). Glial PAR2 activation increased expression of formyl peptide receptor-2 (p < 0.01), a cognate receptor for a fibrillar 42-aa form of beta-amyloid (Abeta(1-42)), enhanced microglia-mediated proinflammatory responses, and suppressed astrocytic IL-4 expression, resulting in neuronal death (p < 0.05). Conversely, neuronal PAR2 activation protected human neurons against the toxic effects of Abeta(1-42) (p < 0.05), a key component of AD neuropathogenesis. Amyloid precursor protein-transgenic mice, displayed glial fibrillary acidic protein and IL-4 induction (p < 0.05) in the absence of proinflammatory gene up-regulation and neuronal injury, whereas PAR2 was up-regulated at this early stage of disease progression. PAR2-deficient mice, after hippocampal Abeta(1-42) implantation, exhibited enhanced IL-4 induction and less neuroinflammation (p < 0.05), together with improved neurobehavioral outcomes (p < 0.05). Thus, PAR2 exerted protective properties in neurons, but its activation in glia was pathogenic with secretion of neurotoxic factors and suppression of astrocytic anti-inflammatory mechanisms contributing to Abeta(1-42)-mediated neurodegeneration.

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