Lysosomal cathepsins and their regulation in aging and neurodegeneration

Ageing Res Rev. 2016 Dec;32:22-37. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2016.04.010. Epub 2016 Apr 26.


Lysosomes and lysosomal hydrolases, including the cathepsins, have been shown to change their properties with aging brain a long time ago, although their function was not really understood. The first biochemical and clinical studies were followed by a major expansion in the last 20 years with the development of animal disease models and new approaches leading to a major advancement of understanding of the role of physiological and degenerative processes in the brain at the molecular level. This includes the understanding of the major role of autophagy and the cathepsins in a number of diseases, including its critical role in the neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis. Similarly, cathepsins and some other lysosomal proteases were shown to have important roles in processing and/or degradation of several important neuronal proteins, thereby having either neuroprotective or harmful roles. In this review, we discuss lysosomal cathepsins and their regulation with the focus on cysteine cathepsins and their endogenous inhibitors, as well as their role in several neurodegenerative diseases.

Keywords: Aging; Alzheimer's disease; Cathepsin D; Cystatin; Cysteine cathepsin; EPM-1; Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Brain* / pathology
  • Brain* / physiology
  • Brain* / physiopathology
  • Cathepsins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / enzymology*
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses / metabolism
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses / physiopathology


  • Cathepsins