We have isolated a novel Alu sequence-containing cDNA, designated AD7c-NTP, that is expressed in neurons, and overexpressed in brains with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The 1,442-nucleotide AD7c-NTP cDNA encodes an approximately 41-kD protein. Expression of AD7c-NTP was confirmed by nucleic acid sequencing of reverse transcriptase PCR products isolated from brain. AD7c-NTP cDNA probes hybridized with 1. 4 kB mRNA transcripts by Northern blot analysis, and monoclonal antibodies generated with the recombinant protein were immunoreactive with approximately 41-45-kD and approximately 18-21-kD molecules by Western blot analysis. In situ hybridization and immunostaining studies localized AD7c-NTP gene expression in neurons. Using a quantitative enzyme-linked sandwich immunoassay (Ghanbari, K., I. Beheshti, and H. Ghanbari, manuscript submitted for publication) constructed with antibodies to the recombinant protein, AD7c-NTP levels were measured under code in 323 clinical and postmortem cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from AD, age-matched control, Parkinson's disease, and neurological disease control patients. The molecular mass of the AD7c-NTP detected in CSF was approximately 41 kD. In postmortem CSF, the mean concentration of AD7c-NTP in cases of definite AD (9.2+/-8.2 ng/ml) was higher than in the aged control group (1.6+/-0.9; P < 0.0001). In CSF samples from individuals with early possible or probable AD, the mean concentration of AD7c-NTP (4.6+/-3.4) was also elevated relative to the levels in CSF from age-matched (1.2+/-0.7) and neurological disease (1.0+/-0.9) controls, and ambulatory patients with Parkinson's disease (1.8+/-1.1) (all P < 0.001). CSF levels of AD7c-NTP were correlated with Blessed dementia scale scores (r = 0. 66; P = 0.0001) rather than age (r = -0.06; P > 0.1). In vitro studies demonstrated that overexpression of AD7c-NTP in transfected neuronal cells promotes neuritic sprouting and cell death, the two principal neuroanatomical lesions correlated with dementia in AD. The results suggest that abnormal AD7c-NTP expression is associated with AD neurodegeneration, and during the early stages of disease, CSF levels correlate with the severity of dementia.