Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most devastating chronic neurodegenerative disease in adults, causes dementia and eventually, death of the affected individuals. Clinically, AD is characterized as late-onset, age-dependent cognitive decline due to loss of neurons in cortex and hippocampus. The pathologic corollary of these symptoms is the formation of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Senile plaques are formed due to accumulation of oligomeric amyloid beta (Aβ) forming plaques. This occurs due to the amyloidogenic processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by various secretases. On the other hand, neurofibrillary tangles are formed due to hyperphosphorylation of cytoskeleton proteins like tau and neurofilament. Both are hyperphosphorylated by cyclin-dependent kinase-5 (Cdk5) and are part of the paired helical filament (PHF), an integral part of neurofibrillary tangles. Unlike other cyclin-dependent kinases, Cdk5 plays a very important role in the neuronal development. Cdk5 gets activated by its neuronal activators p35 and p39. Upon stress, p35 and p39 are cleaved by calpain resulting in truncated products as p25 and p29. Association of Cdk5/p25 is longer and uncontrolled causing aberrant hyperphosphorylation of various substrates of Cdk5 like APP, tau and neurofilament, leading to neurodegenerative pathology like AD. Additionally recent evidence has shown increased levels of p25, Aβ, hyperactivity of Cdk5, phosphorylated tau and neurofilament in human AD brains. This review briefly describes the above-mentioned aspects of involvement of Cdk5 in the pathology of AD and at the end summarizes the advances in Cdk5 as a therapeutic target.
Published by Elsevier Inc.