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Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2012 Feb;15(1):77-90. doi: 10.1017/S1461145711000149. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Increased NF-κB signalling up-regulates BACE1 expression and its therapeutic potential in Alzheimer's disease.

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Townsend Family Laboratories, Department of Psychiatry, Brain Research Center, Graduate Program in Neuroscience, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Elevated levels of β-site APP cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) were found in the brain of some sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients; however, the underlying mechanism is unknown. BACE1 cleaves β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) to generate amyloid β protein (Aβ), a central component of neuritic plaques in AD brains. Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) signalling plays an important role in gene regulation and is implicated in inflammation, oxidative stress and apoptosis. In this report we found that both BACE1 and NF-κB p65 levels were significantly increased in the brains of AD patients. Two functional NF-κB-binding elements were identified in the human BACE1 promoter region. We found that NF-κB p65 expression resulted in increased BACE1 promoter activity and BACE1 transcription, while disruption of NF-κB p65 decreased BACE1 gene expression in p65 knockout (RelA-knockout) cells. In addition, NF-κB p65 expression leads to up-regulated β-secretase cleavage and Aβ production, while non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) inhibited BACE1 transcriptional activation induced by strong NF-κB activator tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). Taken together, our results clearly demonstrate that NF-κB signalling facilitates BACE1 gene expression and APP processing, and increased BACE1 expression mediated by NF-κB signalling in the brain could be one of the novel molecular mechanisms underlying the development of AD in some sporadic cases. Furthermore, NSAIDs could block the inflammation-induced BACE1 transcription and Aβ production. Our study suggests that inhibition of NF-κB-mediated BACE1 expression may be a valuable drug target for AD therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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