Asparagine Endopeptidase (δ Secretase), an Enzyme Implicated in Alzheimer's Disease Pathology, Is an Inhibitor of Axon Regeneration in Peripheral Nerves

eNeuro. 2021 Jan 15;8(1):ENEURO.0155-20.2020. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0155-20.2020. Print Jan-Feb 2021.


Asparagine endopeptidase (AEP) is a lysosomal protease implicated in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). It is known to cleave the axonal microtubule associated protein, Tau, and amyloid precursor protein (APP), both of which might impede axon regeneration following peripheral nerve injury (PNI). Active AEP, AEP-cleaved fragments of Tau (Tau N368), and APP (APP N585) were found in injured peripheral nerves. In AEP null mice, elongation of regenerating axons after sciatic nerve transection and repair was increased relative to wild-type (WT) controls. Compound muscle action potentials (M responses) were restored in reinnervated muscles twice as fast after injury in AEP knock-out (KO) mice as WT controls. Neurite elongation in cultures of adult dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons derived from AEP KO mice was increased significantly relative to cultures from WT controls. In AEP KO mice exposed to 1 h of 20-Hz electrical stimulation (ES) at the time of nerve injury, no further enhancement of axon regeneration was observed. These findings support inhibition of AEP as a therapeutic target to enhance axon regeneration after PNI.

Keywords: APP; asparagine endopeptidase; mouse; nerve; regeneration; tau.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases
  • Animals
  • Axons
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Mice
  • Nerve Regeneration


  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • asparaginylendopeptidase