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Curr Med Chem. 2007;14(27):2848-64.

Role of the APP non-amyloidogenic signaling pathway and targeting alpha-secretase as an alternative drug target for treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

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Laboratory for Neurochemistry, Department of Psychiatry-Neuroscience, and Genetics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most prevalent form of dementia, and its effective disease modifying therapies are desperately needed. Promotion of non-amyloidogenic alpha-secretase cleavage of amyloid precursor protein (APP) to release soluble sAPPalpha, based on the most widely accepted "amyloid model" as a plausible mechanism for AD treatment, is the focus of this review. Modulation of alpha-secretase or "a disintegrin and metalloprotease (ADAM)"s activity via protein kinase C (PKC), calcium ion (Ca(2+)), tyrosine kinase (TK), MAP kinase (MAPK), and hormonal signaling, which regulate catabolic processing of APP, are discussed. The inhibition of amyloidogenic processing of APP by the beta- and gamma-secretase has been considered till now a promising strategy to treat AD. But beta- and gamma-secretase inhibitors, along with the available therapeutic tools for AD, have side effects. These challenges can be circumvented to certain extent; but activation of sAPPalpha release appears to be a potential alternative strategy to reduce cerebral amyloidosis. Drug screens have been performed to identify therapeutics for AD, but an effective screening strategy to isolate activators of alpha-secretase has been rarely reported. Novel reporter-based screens targeted toward APP mRNA 5' untranslated region (UTR), followed by counter-screens to detect alpha-secretase stimulators, could be important in detecting compounds to promote sAPPalpha release and reduce amyloid beta (Abeta) buildup. The primary inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1, which stimulates APP 5'UTR-directed translation of cell-associated APP, enhances processing to sAPPalpha in astrocytes and co-activates ADAM-10/ADAM-17 through MAPK signaling; thus illustrating a novel pathway that could serve as therapeutic model for AD.

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