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J Neurochem. 2011 Aug;118(4):460-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2011.07331.x. Epub 2011 Jun 24.

AMP-activated protein kinase: a potential player in Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Neurology, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.


AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) stimulates energy production via glucose and lipid metabolism, whereas it inhibits energy consuming functions, such as protein and cholesterol synthesis. Increased cytoplasmic AMP and Ca(2+) levels are the major activators of neuronal AMPK signaling. Interestingly, Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with several abnormalities in neuronal energy metabolism, for example, decline in glucose uptake, mitochondrial dysfunctions and defects in cholesterol metabolism, and in addition, with problems in maintaining Ca(2+) homeostasis. Epidemiological studies have also revealed that many metabolic and cardiovascular diseases are risk factors for cognitive impairment and sporadic AD. Emerging studies indicate that AMPK signaling can regulate tau protein phosphorylation and amyloidogenesis, the major hallmarks of AD. AMPK is also a potent activator of autophagic degradation which seems to be suppressed in AD. All these observations imply that AMPK is involved in the pathogenesis of AD. However, the responses of AMPK activation are dependent on stimulation and the extent of activating stress. Evidently, AMPK signaling can repress and delay the appearance of AD pathology but later on, with increasing neuronal stress, it can trigger detrimental effects that augment AD pathogenesis. We will outline the potential role of AMPK function in respect to various aspects affecting AD pathogenesis.

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