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J Neurosci Res. 2011 Jun;89(6):822-32. doi: 10.1002/jnr.22618. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Decrease in brain soluble amyloid precursor protein β (sAPPβ) in Alzheimer's disease cortex.

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Department of Neurology, Merck Research Laboratory, West Point, Pennsylvania.


Amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) is generated by sequential cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by β-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 (β-secretase, or BACE1) and γ-secretase. Several reports demonstrate increased BACE1 enzymatic activity in brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from Alzheimer's disease (AD) subjects, suggesting that an increase in BACE1-mediated cleavage of APP drives amyloid pathophysiology in AD. BACE1 cleavage of APP leads to the generation of a secreted N-terminal fragment of APP (sAPPβ). To relate BACE1 activity better to endogenous APP processing in AD and control brains, we have directly measured brain sAPPβ levels using a novel APP β-site specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We demonstrate a significant reduction in brain cortical sAPPβ levels in AD compared with control subjects. In the same brain samples, BACE1 activity was unchanged, full-length APP and sAPPα levels were significantly reduced, and Aβ peptides were significantly elevated. In conclusion, a reduction in cortical brain sAPPβ together with unchanged BACE1 activity suggests that this is due to reduced full-length APP substrate in late-stage AD subjects. These results highlight the need for multiparameter analysis of the amyloidogenic process to understand better AD pathophysiology in early vs. late-stage AD.

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