To study the role of amyloid precursor protein (APP) in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the level of APP was analysed by quantitative immunoblotting in 6 AD patients and 6 age-matched controls in 9 brain regions. These were associative cortices (orbital frontal cortex, inferior temporal cortex, inferior parietal cortex), primary cortex (occipital cortex), limbic structures (anterior cingulate gyrus, hippocampus), subcortical structures (putamen, thalamus) and cerebellum. To assess a potential relationship between APP and presenilin-1 (PS-1) and/or synaptic proteins, the levels of PS-1 and rab3a, a specific synaptic vesicle protein, were also determined in the same tissue samples. The level of APP was almost the same in the association cortical regions, primary cortex, and limbic structures and in the subcortical structures, while the lowest level was found in the cerebellum. There were more marked differences in the level of PS-1 and rab3a between different brain regions. The highest levels of PS-1 and rab3a were found in the association cortical areas, while intermediate levels were found in primary cortex, limbic structures and subcortical structures. As for APP, the lowest level was found in cerebellum. We found significantly reduced levels of all three proteins in the association cortices and in hippocampus in AD. Our data show that the protein levels are reduced in specific areas, restricted to neuronal populations that are known to degenerate in AD. Due to the similarity of the expression of APP, PS-1 and rab3a, it is tempting to speculate whether there is a functional relationship between these proteins.
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