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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine September 2001

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Nicastrin modulates presenilin-mediated notch/glp-1 signal transduction and betaAPP processing.

Nicastrin, a transmembrane glycoprotein, forms high molecular weight complexes with presenilin 1 and presenilin 2. Suppression of nicastrin expression in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos induces a subset of notch/glp-1 phenotypes similar to those induced by simultaneous null mutations in both presenilin homologues of C. elegans (sel-12 and hop-1). Nicastrin also binds carboxy-terminal derivatives of beta-amyloid precursor protein (betaAPP), and modulates the production of the amyloid beta-peptide (A beta) from these derivatives. Missense mutations in a conserved hydrophilic domain of nicastrin increase A beta42 and A beta40 peptide secretion. Deletions in this domain inhibit A beta production. Nicastrin and presenilins are therefore likely to be functional components of a multimeric complex necessary for the intramembranous proteolysis of proteins such as Notch/GLP-1 and betaAPP.

Nature 2000 Sep 7;407(6800):48-54

A prospective study of estrogen replacement therapy and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease: the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging.

Previous reports have suggested that estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) in women may exert a protective effect on their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We investigated this relationship in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), a prospective multidisciplinary study of normal aging conducted by the National Institute on Aging. The sample consisted of 472 post- or perimenopausal women followed for up to 16 years in the BLSA. We documented ERT prospectively at each BLSA visit, and we categorized women who had used oral or transdermal estrogens at anytime as ERT users. We used Cox proportional hazards models with time-dependent covariates to estimate the relative risk of developing AD after ERT as compared with women who had not used estrogen replacement. Approximately 45% of the women in the cohort had used ERT, and we diagnosed 34 incident cases of AD (NINCDS/ADRDA criteria) during follow-up, including nine estrogen users. After adjusting for education, the relative risk for AD in ERT users as compared with nonusers was 0.46 (95% CI, 0.209-0.997), indicating a reduced risk of AD for women who had reported the use of estrogen. Our data did not show an effect for duration of ERT usage. Our finding offers additional support for a protective influence of estrogen in AD. Randomized clinical trials are necessary to confirm this association, which could have significant public health impact.

Neurology 1997 Jun;48(6):1517-21

Correlation between elevated levels of amyloid beta-peptide in the brain and cognitive decline.

CONTEXT: Alzheimer disease (AD) is characterized neuropathologically by the presence of amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta)-containing plaques and neurofibrillary tangles composed of abnormal tau protein. Considerable controversy exists as to whether the extent of accumulation of Abeta correlates with dementia and whether Abeta alterations precede or follow changes in tau. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether accumulation of Abeta correlates with the earliest signs of cognitive deterioration and to define the relationship between Abeta accumulation and early tau changes. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PATIENTS: Postmortem cross-sectional study of 79 nursing home residents with Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scale scores of 0.0 to 5.0 who died between 1986 and 1997, comparing the levels of Abeta variants in the cortices of the subjects with no (CDR score, 0.0 [n = 16]), questionable (CDR score, 0.5 [n = 11]), mild (CDR score, 1.0 [n = 22]), moderate (CDR score, 2.0 [n = 15]), or severe (CDR score, 4.0 or 5.0 [n = 15]) dementia. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Levels of total Abeta peptides with intact or truncated amino termini and ending in either amino acid 40 (A(beta)x-40) or 42 (A(beta)x-42) in 5 neocortical brain regions as well as levels of tau protein undergoing early conformational changes in frontal cortex, as a function of CDR score. RESULTS: The levels of both A(beta)x-40 and A(beta)x-42 were elevated even in cases classified as having questionable dementia (CDR score = 0.5), and increases of both peptides correlated with progression of dementia. Levels of the more fibril-prone A(beta)x-42 peptide were higher than those of A(beta)x-40 in nondemented cases and remained higher throughout progression of disease in all regions examined. Finally, increases in A(beta)x-40 and A(beta)x-42 precede significant tau pathology at least in the frontal cortex, an area chosen for examination because of the absence of neuritic changes in the absence of disease. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, levels of total A(beta)x-40 and A(beta)x-42 were elevated early in dementia and levels of both peptides were strongly correlated with cognitive decline. Of particular interest, in the frontal cortex, Abeta was elevated before the occurrence of significant tau pathology. These results support an important role for Abeta in mediating initial pathogenic events in AD dementia and suggest that treatment strategies targeting the formation, accumulation, or cytotoxic effects of Abeta should be pursued.

JAMA 2000 Mar 22-29;283(12):1571-7

TGF-beta1 promotes microglial amyloid-beta clearance and reduces plaque burden in transgenic mice.

Abnormal accumulation of the amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta) in the brain appears crucial to pathogenesis in all forms of Alzheimer disease (AD), but the underlying mechanisms in the sporadic forms of AD remain unknown. Transforming growth factor beta1 (TGF-beta1), a key regulator of the brain’s responses to injury and inflammation, has been implicated in Abeta deposition in vivo. Here we demonstrate that a modest increase in astroglial TGF-beta1 production in aged transgenic mice expressing the human beta-amyloid precursor protein (hAPP) results in a three-fold reduction in the number of parenchymal amyloid plaques, a 50% reduction in the overall Abeta load in the hippocampus and neocortex, and a decrease in the number of dystrophic neurites. In mice expressing hAPP and TGF-beta1, Abeta accumulated substantially in cerebral blood vessels, but not in parenchymal plaques. In human cases of AD, Abeta immunoreactivity associated with parenchymal plaques was inversely correlated with Abeta in blood vessels and cortical TGF-beta1 mRNA levels. The reduction of parenchymal plaques in hAPP/TGF-beta1 mice was associated with a strong activation of microglia and an increase in inflammatory mediators. Recombinant TGF-beta1 stimulated Abeta clearance in microglial cell cultures. These results demonstrate that TGF-beta1 is an important modifier of amyloid deposition in vivo and indicate that TGF-beta1 might promote microglial processes that inhibit the accumulation of Abeta in the brain parenchyma.

Nat Med 2001 May;7(5):612-8

Immunization with amyloid-beta attenuates Alzheimer-disease-like pathology in the PDAPP mouse.

Amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta) seems to have a central role in the neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Familial forms of the disease have been linked to mutations in the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and the presenilin genes. Disease-linked mutations in these genes result in increased production of the 42-amino-acid form of the peptide (Abeta42), which is the predominant form found in the amyloid plaques of Alzheimer’s disease. The PDAPP transgenic mouse, which overexpresses mutant human APP (in which the amino acid at position 717 is phenylalanine instead of the normal valine), progressively develops many of the neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease in an age- and brain-region-dependent manner. In the present study, transgenic animals were immunized with Abeta42, either before the onset of AD-type neuropathologies (at 6 weeks of age) or at an older age (11 months), when amyloid-beta deposition and several of the subsequent neuropathological changes were well established. We report that immunization of the young animals essentially prevented the development of beta-amyloid-plaque formation, neuritic dystrophy and astrogliosis. Treatment of the older animals also markedly reduced the extent and progression of these AD-like neuropathologies. Our results raise the possibility that immunization with amyloid-beta may be effective in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Nature 1999 Jul 8;400(6740):173-7

A beta peptide immunization reduces behavioral impairment and plaques in a model of Alzheimer’s disease.

Much evidence indicates that abnormal processing and extra cellular deposition of amyloid-beta peptide (A beta), a proteolytic derivative of the beta-amyloid precursor protein (betaAPP), is central to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (reviewed in ref. 1). In the PDAPP transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, immunization with A beta causes a marked reduction in burden of the brain amyloid. Evidence that A beta immunization also reduces cognitive dysfunction in murine models of Alzheimer’s disease would support the hypothesis that abnormal A beta processing is essential to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, and would encourage the development of other strategies directed at the ‘amyloid cascade’. Here we show that A beta immunization reduces both deposition of cerebral fibrillar A beta and cognitive dysfunction in the TgCRND8 murine model of Alzheimer’s disease without, however, altering total levels of A beta in the brain. This implies that either a approximately 50% reduction in dense-cored A beta plaques is sufficient to affect cognition, or that vaccination may modulate the activity/abundance of a small subpopulation of especially toxic A beta species.

Nature 2000 Dec 21-28;408(6815):979-82



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