Converging evidence suggests that the accumulation of cerebral amyloid β-protein (Aβ) in Alzheimer's disease (AD) reflects an imbalance between the production and degradation of this self-aggregating peptide. Upregulation of proteases that degrade Aβ thus represents a novel therapeutic approach to lowering steady-state Aβ levels, but the consequences of sustained upregulation in vivo have not been studied. Here we show that transgenic overexpression of insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) or neprilysin (NEP) in neurons significantly reduces brain Aβ levels, retards or completely prevents amyloid plaque formation and its associated cytopathology, and rescues the premature lethality present in amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic mice. Our findings demonstrate that chronic upregulation of Aβ-degrading proteases represents an efficacious therapeutic approach to combating Alzheimer-type pathology in vivo.
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