Accumulation of the amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptide is a central factor in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis as supported by continuing evidence. This review concisely summarizes this evidence supporting a critical role for Aβ in AD before discussing the clearance of this peptide. Mechanisms of clearance of Aβ are critical for preventing pathological elevations in Aβ concentration. Direct degradation of Aβ by endopeptidases has emerged as one important pathway for clearance. Of particular interest are endopeptidases that are sensitive to the neprilysin (NEP) inhibitors thiorphan and phosphoramidon (i.e., are "NEP-like") as these inhibitors induce a dramatic increase in Aβ levels in rodents. This review will focus on neprilysin-2 (NEP2), a NEP-like endopeptidase which cooperates with NEP to control Aβ levels in the brain. The evidence for the involvement of NEP2 in AD is discussed as well as the therapeutic relevance with regards to gene therapy and the development of molecular markers for the disease.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; NEP; NEP2; amyloid hypothesis; amyloid-beta degradation; clearance; neprilysin; neprilysin-2.