In situ hybridization was used to assess total amyloid protein precursor (APP) messenger RNA and the subset of APP mRNA containing the Kunitz protease inhibitor (KPI) insert in 11 Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 7 control brains. In AD, a significant twofold increase was observed in total APP mRNA in nucleus basalis and locus ceruleus neurons but not in hippocampal subicular neurons, neurons of the basis pontis, or occipital cortical neurons. The increase in total APP mRNA in locus ceruleus and nucleus basalis neurons was due exclusively to an increase in APP mRNA lacking the KPI domain. These findings suggest that increased production of APP lacking the KPI domain in nucleus basalis and locus ceruleus neurons may play an important role in the deposition of cerebral amyloid that occurs in AD.
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