Multifunctional Roles of Enolase in Alzheimer's Disease Brain: Beyond Altered Glucose Metabolism

J Neurochem. 2009 Nov;111(4):915-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06397.x. Epub 2009 Sep 23.


Enolase enzymes are abundantly expressed, cytosolic carbon-oxygen lyases known for their role in glucose metabolism. Recently, enolase has been shown to possess a variety of different regulatory functions, beyond glycolysis and gluconeogenesis, associated with hypoxia, ischemia, and Alzheimer's disease (AD). AD is an age-associated neurodegenerative disorder characterized pathologically by elevated oxidative stress and subsequent damage to proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, appearance of neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques, and loss of synapse and neuronal cells. It is unclear if development of a hypometabolic environment is a consequence of or contributes to AD pathology, as there is not only a significant decline in brain glucose levels in AD, but also there is an increase in proteomics identified oxidatively modified glycolytic enzymes that are rendered inactive, including enolase. Previously, our laboratory identified alpha-enolase as one the most frequently up-regulated and oxidatively modified proteins in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), early-onset AD, and AD. However, the glycolytic conversion of 2-phosphoglycerate to phosphoenolpyruvate catalyzed by enolase does not directly produce ATP or NADH; therefore it is surprising that, among all glycolytic enzymes, alpha-enolase was one of only two glycolytic enzymes consistently up-regulated from MCI to AD. These findings suggest enolase is involved with more than glucose metabolism in AD brain, but may possess other functions, normally necessary to preserve brain function. This review examines potential altered function(s) of brain enolase in MCI, early-onset AD, and AD, alterations that may contribute to the biochemical, pathological, clinical characteristics, and progression of this dementing disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / enzymology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glycolysis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / metabolism*
  • Plasminogen / metabolism


  • Plasminogen
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase
  • Glucose