Distinct subcellular patterns of neprilysin protein and activity in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients, transgenic mice and cultured human neuronal cells

Li Zhou, Chunsheng Wei, Wei Huang, David A. Bennett, Dennis W. Dickson, Rui Wang, Dengshun Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


We investigated the subcellular distribution of NEP protein and activity in brains of human individuals with no cognitive impairment (NCI), mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD dementia, as well as double transgenic mice and human neuronal cell line treated with Aβ and 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE). Total cortical neuronal-related NEP was significantly increased in MCI compared to NCI brains. NeuN was decreased in both MCI and AD, consistent with neuronal loss occurring in MCI and AD. Negative relationship between NEP protein and NeuN in MCI brains, and positive correlation between NEP and pan-cadherin in NCI and MCI brains, suggesting the increased NEP expression in NCI and MCI might be due to membrane associated NEP in non-neuronal cells. In subcellular extracts, NEP protein decreased in cytoplasmic fractions in MCI and AD, but increased in membrane fractions, with a significant increase in the membrane/cytoplasmic ratio of NEP protein in AD brains. By contrast, NEP activity was decreased in AD. Similar results were observed in AD-mimic transgenic mice. Studies of SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma showed an up-regulation of NEP protein in the cytoplasmic compartment induced by HNE and Aβ; however, NEP activity decreased in cytoplasmic fractions. Activity of NEP in membrane fractions increased at 48 hours and then significantly decreased after treatment with HNE and Aβ. The cytoplasmic/membrane ratio of NEP protein increased at 24 hours and then decreased in both HNE and Aβ treated cells. Both HNE and Aβ up-regulate NEP expression, but NEP enzyme activity did not show the same increase, possibly indicating immature cytoplasmic NEP is less active than membrane associated NEP. These observations indicate that modulation of NEP protein levels and its subcellular location influence the net proteolytic activity and this complex association might participate in deficiency of Aβ degradation that is associated with amyloid deposition in AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)608-621
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Translational Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013



  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid-β
  • Aβ clearance
  • Aβ degrading enzymes
  • Neprilysin
  • Subcellular compartments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cancer Research

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