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Brain Res. 1997 Jul 25;763(2):145-58.

Active site-directed antibodies identify calpain II as an early-appearing and pervasive component of neurofibrillary pathology in Alzheimer's disease.

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Laboratories of Molecular Neuroscience, Mailman Research Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA 02178, USA.


Calpain proteases influence intracellular signaling pathways and regulate cytoskeleton organization, but the neuronal and pathological roles of individual isoenzymes are unknown. In Alzheimer's disease (AD), the activated form of calpain I is significantly increased while the fate of calpain II has been more difficult to address. Here, calpain II antibodies raised to different sequences within a cryptic region around the active site, which becomes exposed during protease activation, were shown immunohistochemically to bind extensively to neurofibrillary tangles (NFT), neuritic plaques, and neuropil threads in brains from individuals with AD. Additional 'pre-tangle' granular structures in neurons were also intensely immunostained, indicating calpain II mobilization at very early stages of NFT formation. Total levels of calpain II remained constant in the prefrontal cortex of AD patients but were increased 8-fold in purified NFT relative to levels of calpain I. These results implicate activated calpain II in neurofibrillary degeneration, provide further evidence for the involvement of the calpain system in AD pathogenesis, and imply that neuronal calcium homeostasis is altered in AD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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