Kunitz Protease Inhibitor-Containing Amyloid β Protein Precursor Immunoreactivity in Alzheimer's Disease

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The amyloid β protein (β/A4) that is deposited in senile plaques and in cerebral vessels in Alzheimer's disease (AD) is derived from a larger membrane-associated glycoprotein, the amyloid β protein precursor (APP). The gene encoding APP produces at least four major transcripts. Three of the four transcripts contain an alternatively-spliced exon encoding a Kunitz protease inhibitor domain (KPI). We now report the results of a series of experiments using novel immunohistochemical reagents to anatomically localize β/A4, APP, and KPI-containing forms of APP (APP-KPI) in the hippocampal formation and temporal neocortex. A new monoclonal antibody against β/A4 recognized senile plaques and vascular amyloid, but no cellular elements. Anti-APP and anti-KPI monoclonal antibodies stained neurons, including proximal axons and dendrites. The neuritic component of some plaques in patients with AD and in elderly control individuals were also immunoreactive for both APP and APP-KPI. Quantitative assessment of senile plaques in temporal neocortex showed that, on average, about one-third of β/A4 immunoreactive plaques stained with either anti-APP or anti-KPI. Amyloid β protein precursor and APP-KPI immunoreactivity were also found in the white and grey matter vessels of both AD patients and control individuals. These results suggest that KPI-containing forms of APP are present in dystrophic neurites of senile plaques, and normally in neurons, neuronal processes, and in the vascular compartment in the brain. Thus, APP-KPI is in a position to be intimately associated with β/A4 deposition in the neuropil, in plaques and in amyloid angiopathy.

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