Background: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive memory and cognitive decline during middle to late adult life. The AD brain is characterized by deposition of amyloid β peptide (Aβ), which is produced from amyloid precursor protein by β- and γ-secretase (presenilin complex)-mediated sequential cleavage. Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells potentially provide an opportunity to generate a human cell-based model of AD that would be crucial for drug discovery as well as for investigating mechanisms of the disease.
Methodology/principal findings: We differentiated human iPS (hiPS) cells into neuronal cells expressing the forebrain marker, Foxg1, and the neocortical markers, Cux1, Satb2, Ctip2, and Tbr1. The iPS cell-derived neuronal cells also expressed amyloid precursor protein, β-secretase, and γ-secretase components, and were capable of secreting Aβ into the conditioned media. Aβ production was inhibited by β-secretase inhibitor, γ-secretase inhibitor (GSI), and an NSAID; however, there were different susceptibilities to all three drugs between early and late differentiation stages. At the early differentiation stage, GSI treatment caused a fast increase at lower dose (Aβ surge) and drastic decline of Aβ production.
Conclusions/significance: These results indicate that the hiPS cell-derived neuronal cells express functional β- and γ-secretases involved in Aβ production; however, anti-Aβ drug screening using these hiPS cell-derived neuronal cells requires sufficient neuronal differentiation.