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Exp Neurol. 1998 Mar;150(1):159-68.

Characteristics of the in vitro vasoactivity of beta-amyloid peptides.

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Roskamp Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, University of South Florida, Tampa 33613, USA.


The beta-amyloid (A beta 1-40) peptide has previously been shown to enhance phenylephrine contraction of aortic rings in vitro. We have employed a novel observation, that A beta peptides enhance endothelin-1 (ET-1) contraction, to examine the relationship between vasoactivity and potential amyloidogenicity of A beta peptides, the role played by free radicals and calcium in the vasoactive mechanism, and the requirement of an intact endothelial layer for enhancement of vasoactivity. Rings of rat aortae were constricted with ET-1 before and after addition of amyloid peptide and/or other compounds, and a comparison was made between post- and pre-treatment contractions. In this system, vessel constriction is consistently dramatically enhanced by A beta 1-40, is enhanced less so by A beta 1-42, and is not enhanced by A beta 25-35. The endothelium is not required for A beta vasoactivity, and calcium channel blockers have a greater effect than antioxidants in blocking enhancement of vasoconstriction by A beta peptides. In contrast to A beta-induced cytotoxicity, A beta-induced vasoactivity is immediate, occurs in response to low doses of freshly solubilized peptide, and appears to be inversely related to the amyloidogenic potential of the A beta peptides. We conclude that the mechanism of A beta vasoactivity is distinct from that of A beta cytotoxicity. Although free radicals appear to modulate the vasoactive effects, the lack of requirement for endothelium suggests that loss of the free radical balance (between NO and O2-) may be a secondary influence on A beta enhancement of vasoconstriction. These effects of A beta on isolated vessels, and reported effects of A beta in cells of the vasculature, suggest that A beta-induced disruption of vascular tone may be a factor in the pathogenesis of cerebral amyloid angiopathy and Alzheimer's disease. Although the mechanism of enhanced vasoconstriction is unknown, it is reasonable to propose that in vivo contact of A beta peptides with small cerebral vessels may increase their tendency to constrict and oppose their tendency to relax. The subclinical ischemia resulting from this would be expected to up-regulate beta APP production in and around the vasculature with further increase in A beta formation and deposition. The disruptive and degenerative effects of such a cycle would lead to the complete destruction of cerebral vessels and consequently neuronal degeneration in the affected areas.

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