The amyloid cascade hypothesis proposes that excessive accumulation of amyloid beta-peptides is the initiating event in Alzheimer’s disease. These neurotoxic peptides are generated from the amyloid precursor protein via sequential cleavage by β- and γ-secretases in the ’amyloidogenic’ proteolytic pathway. Alternatively, the amyloid precursor protein can be processed via the ’non-amyloidogenic’ pathway which, through the action of the α-secretase a disintegrin and metalloproteinase (ADAM) 10, both precludes amyloid beta-peptide formation and has the additional benefit of generating a neuroprotective soluble amyloid precursor protein fragment, sAPPα. In the current study, we investigated whether the orphan drug, dichloroacetate, could alter amyloid precursor protein proteolysis. In SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, dichloroacetate enhanced sAPPα generation whilst inhibiting β–secretase processing of endogenous amyloid precursor protein and the subsequent generation of amyloid beta-peptides. Over-expression of the amyloid precursor protein partly ablated the effect of dichloroacetate on amyloidogenic and non-amyloidogenic processing whilst over-expression of the β-secretase only ablated the effect on amyloidogenic processing. Similar enhancement of ADAM-mediated amyloid precursor protein processing by dichloroacetate was observed in unrelated cell lines and the effect was not exclusive to the amyloid precursor protein as an ADAM substrate, as indicated by dichloroacetate-enhanced proteolysis of the Notch ligand, Jagged1. Despite altering proteolysis of the amyloid precursor protein, dichloroacetate did not significantly affect the expression/activity of α-, β- or γ-secretases. In conclusion, dichloroacetate can inhibit amyloidogenic and promote non-amyloidogenic proteolysis of the amyloid precursor protein. Given the small size and blood-brain-barrier permeability of the drug, further research into its mechanism of action with respect to APP proteolysis may lead to the development of therapies for slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Gerstmann–Sträussler–Scheinker syndrome (GSS) is a hereditary neurodegenerative disease characterized by extracellular aggregations of pathological prion protein (PrP) forming characteristic plaques. Our study aimed to evaluate the micromorphology and protein composition of these plaques in relation to age, disease duration, and co-expression of other pathogenic proteins related to other neurodegenerations. Hippocampal regions of nine clinically, neuropathologically, and genetically confirmed GSS subjects were investigated using immunohistochemistry and multichannel confocal fluorescent microscopy. Most pathognomic prion protein plaques were small (2–10 µm), condensed, globous, and did not contain any of the other investigated proteinaceous components, particularly dystrophic neurites. Equally rare (in two cases out of nine) were plaques over 50 µm having predominantly fibrillar structure and exhibit the presence of dystrophic neuritic structures; in one case, the plaques also included bulbous dystrophic neurites. Co-expression with hyperphosphorylated protein tau protein or amyloid beta-peptide (Aβ) in GSS PrP plaques is generally a rare observation, even in cases with comorbid neuropathology. The dominant picture of the GSS brain is small, condensed plaques, often multicentric, while presence of dystrophic neuritic changes accumulating hyperphosphorylated protein tau or Aβ in the PrP plaques are rare and, thus, their presence probably constitutes a trivial observation without any relationship to GSS development and progression.
AbstractThe amyloid-beta peptide (Aβ) is considered a key factor in Alzheimer's disease (AD) ever since the discovery of the disease. The understanding of its damaging influence has however shifted recently from large fibrils observed in the inter-cellular environment to the small oligomers interacting with a cell membrane. We studied the effect of temperature on the latter interactions by evaluating the structural characteristics of zwitterionic phosphatidylcholine (PC) membranes with incorporated Aβ25–35 peptide. By means of small angle neutron scattering (SANS), we have observed for the first time a spontaneous reformation of extruded unilamellar vesicles (EULVs) to discoidal bicelle-like structures (BLSs) and small unilamellar vesicles (SULVs). These changes in the membrane self-organization happen during the thermodynamic phase transitions of lipids and only in the presence of the peptide. We interpret the dramatic changes in the membrane's overall shape with parallel changes in its thickness as the Aβ25–35 triggered membrane damage and a consequent reorganization of its structure. The suggested process is consistent with an action of separate peptides or small size peptide oligomers rather than the result of large Aβ fibrils.