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J Neurosci. 1999 Feb 1;19(3):928-39.

Identification of microglial signal transduction pathways mediating a neurotoxic response to amyloidogenic fragments of beta-amyloid and prion proteins.

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Alzheimer Research Laboratory, Departments of Neurology and Neurosciences, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4928, USA.


Microglial interaction with amyloid fibrils in the brains of Alzheimer's and prion disease patients results in the inflammatory activation of these cells. We observed that primary microglial cultures and the THP-1 monocytic cell line are stimulated by fibrillar beta-amyloid and prion peptides to activate identical tyrosine kinase-dependent inflammatory signal transduction cascades. The tyrosine kinases Lyn and Syk are activated by the fibrillar peptides and initiate a signaling cascade resulting in a transient release of intracellular calcium that results in the activation of classical PKC and the recently described calcium-sensitive tyrosine kinase PYK2. Activation of the MAP kinases ERK1 and ERK2 follows as a subsequent downstream signaling event. We demonstrate that PYK2 is positioned downstream of Lyn, Syk, and PKC. PKC is a necessary intermediate required for ERK activation. Importantly, the signaling response elicited by beta-amyloid and prion fibrils leads to the production of neurotoxic products. We have demonstrated in a tissue culture model that conditioned media from beta-amyloid- and prion-stimulated microglia or from THP-1 monocytes are neurotoxic to mouse cortical neurons. This toxicity can be ameliorated by treating THP-1 cells with specific enzyme inhibitors that target various components of the signal transduction pathway linked to the inflammatory responses.

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