Age- and region-dependent alterations in Abeta-degrading enzymes: implications for Abeta-induced disorders

Neurobiol Aging. 2005 May;26(5):645-54. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2004.06.013.


Accumulation of amyloid beta-protein (Abeta) is a fundamental feature of certain human brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Down syndrome and also of the skeletal muscle disorder inclusion body myositis (IBM). Emerging evidence suggests that the steady-state levels of Abeta are determined by the balance between production and degradation. Although the proteolytic processes leading to Abeta formation have been extensively studied, less is known about the proteases that degrade Abeta, which include insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) and neprilysin (NEP). Here we measured the steady-state levels of these proteases as a function of age and brain/muscle region in mice and humans. In the hippocampus, which is vulnerable to AD pathology, IDE and NEP steady-state levels diminish as function of age. By contrast, in the cerebellum, a brain region not marked by significant Abeta accumulation, NEP and IDE levels either increase or remain unaltered during aging. Moreover, the steady-state levels of IDE and NEP are significantly higher in the cerebellum compared to the cortex and hippocampus. We further show that IDE is more oxidized in the hippocampus compared to the cerebellum of AD patients. In muscle, we find differential levels of IDE and NEP in fast versus slow twitch muscle fibers that varies with aging. These findings suggest that age- and region-specific changes in the proteolytic clearance of Abeta represent a critical pathogenic mechanism that may account for the susceptibility of particular brain or muscle regions in AD and IBM.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / enzymology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western / methods
  • Brain / enzymology*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Immunoprecipitation / methods
  • Insulysin / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscles / enzymology*
  • Neprilysin / metabolism*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Neprilysin
  • Insulysin