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Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2008 Apr;34(2):181-93. Epub 2007 Oct 31.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) levels and activity in Alzheimer's disease, and relationship of perivascular ACE-1 to cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

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1
Dementia Research Group, Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, Clinical Science at North Bristol, University of Bristol, Frenchay Hospital, Frenchay, Bristol, UK. scott.miners@bristol.ac.uk

Abstract

AIMS:

Several observations point to the involvement of angiotensin-converting enzyme-1 (ACE-1) in Alzheimer's disease (AD): ACE-1 cleaves amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta) in vitro, the level and activity of ACE-1 are reportedly increased in AD, and variations in the ACE-1 gene are associated with AD. We analysed ACE-1 activity and expression in AD and control brains, particularly in relation to Abeta load and cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA).

METHODS:

ACE-1 activity was measured in the frontal cortex from 58 control and 114 AD cases of known Abeta load and CAA severity. The distribution of ACE-1 was examined immunohistochemically. In five AD cases with absent or mild CAA, five with moderate to severe CAA and five controls with absent or mild CAA, levels of vascular ACE-1 were assessed by quantitative immunofluorescence.

RESULTS:

ACE-1 activity was increased in AD (P < 0.001) and correlated directly with parenchymal Abeta load (P = 0.05). Immunohistochemistry revealed ACE-1 in neurones and cortical blood vessels - in the intima but most abundant perivascularly. Cases with moderate to severe CAA had significantly more vessel-associated ACE-1 than did those with little or no CAA. Perivascular ACE-1 did not colocalize with Abeta, smooth muscle actin, glial fibrillary acidic protein, collagen IV, vimentin or laminin, but was similarly distributed to extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins fibronectin and decorin.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings indicate that ACE-1 activity is increased in AD, in direct relationship to parenchymal Abeta load. Increased ACE-1, probably of neuronal origin, accumulates perivascularly in severe CAA and colocalizes with vascular ECM. The possible relationship of ACE-1 to the deposition of perivascular ECM remains to be determined.

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