Distribution of tripeptidyl peptidase I in human tissues under normal and pathological conditions

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2001 Mar;60(3):280-92. doi: 10.1093/jnen/60.3.280.


Tripeptidyl peptidase I (TPP I) is a lysosomal exopeptidase that cleaves tripeptides from the free N-termini of oligopeptides. Mutations in this enzyme are associated with the classic late-infantile form of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (CLN2), an autosomal recessive disorder leading to severe brain damage. To gain more insight into CLN2 pathogenesis and the role of TPP I in human tissues in general, we analyzed the temporal and spatial distribution of TPP I in the brain and its localization in internal organs under normal and pathological conditions. We report that TPP I immunoreactivity appears in neurons late in gestation and increases gradually in the postnatal period, matching significantly the final differentiation and maturation of neural tissue. Endothelial cells, choroid plexus, microglial cells, and ependyma showed TPP I immunostaining distinctly earlier than neurons. Acquisition of the adult pattern of TPP I distribution in the brain at around the age of 2 years correlates with the onset of clinical signs in CLN2 subjects. In adults, TPP I was found in all types of cells in the brain and internal organs we studied, although the intensity of TPP I labeling varied among several types of cells and showed a noticeable predilection for cells and/or organs associated with peptide hormone and neuropeptide production. In addition, TPP I immunoreactivity was increased in aging brain, neurodegenerative and lysosomal storage disorders, and some differentiated neoplasms and was reduced in ischemic/anoxic areas and undifferentiated tumors. These findings suggest that TPP I is involved in general protein turnover and that its expression may be controlled by various regulatory mechanisms, which highlights the importance of this enzyme for normal function of cells and organs in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aminopeptidases
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Infarction / enzymology
  • Brain Infarction / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Child
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidases and Tripeptidyl-Peptidases
  • Encephalitis / enzymology
  • Encephalitis / pathology
  • Endopeptidases / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases, Nervous System / enzymology
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases, Nervous System / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / enzymology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Serine Proteases


  • Endopeptidases
  • Serine Proteases
  • Aminopeptidases
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidases and Tripeptidyl-Peptidases
  • tripeptidyl-peptidase 1