Therapeutic targeting of the endoplasmic reticulum in Alzheimer's disease

Curr Alzheimer Res. 2012 Jan;9(1):110-9. doi: 10.2174/156720512799015055.


The extensive prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) places a tremendous burden physiologically, socially and economically upon those directly suffering and those caring for sufferers themselves. Considering the steady increases in numbers of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's, the number of effective pharmacotherapeutic strategies to tackle the disease is still relatively few. As with many other neurodegenerative mechanisms, AD, is characterized by the continued presence and accumulation of cytotoxic protein aggregates, i.e. of beta-amyloid and the microtubule associated protein, tau. Therefore, one novel therapeutic avenue for the treatment of AD may be the actual targeting of factors that control protein synthesis, packaging and degradation. One of the prime cellular targets that, if effectively modulated, could accomplish this is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The ER can not only control cellular protein synthesis, trafficking and degradation but it is also closely associated with cytoprotective mechanisms, including calcium ion regulation and unfolded protein responses. This review will delineate some of the most important functional physiological features of the ER that, if effectively modulated, could result in beneficial amelioration or remediation of the negative cellular aspects of AD initiation and progression. While not a classical drug target, even with minimal levels of beneficial modulation, its multifactorial efficacy may amplify small effects resulting in significant therapeutic efficacy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / genetics
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • tau Proteins
  • Calcium