Low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 promotes anti-apoptotic signaling in neurons by activating Akt survival pathway

Rodrigo A. Fuentealba, Qiang Liu, Takahisa Kanekiyo, Juan Zhang, Guojun Bu

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66 Scopus citations


The low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) is a multi-ligand receptor abundantly expressed in neurons. Previous work has shown that brain LRP1 levels are decreased during aging and in Alzheimer disease. Although mounting evidence has demonstrated a role for LRP1 in the metabolism of apolipoprotein E/lipoprotein and amyloid-β peptide, whether LRP1 also plays a direct role in neuronal survival is not clear. Here, we show that LRP1 expression is critical for the survival of primary neurons under stress conditions including trophic withdrawal, the presence of apoptosis inducers, or amyloid-β-induced neurotoxicity. Using lentiviral short hairpin RNA to knock down endogenous LRP1 expression, we showed that a depletion of LRP1 leads to an activation of caspase-3 and increased neuronal apoptosis, an effect that was rescued by a caspase-3 inhibitor. A correlation between decreased Akt phosphorylation and the activation of caspase-3 was demonstrated in LRP1 knocked down neurons. Notably, LRP1 knockdown decreased insulin receptor levels in primary neurons, suggesting that decreased neuronal survival might be a consequence of an impaired insulin receptor signaling pathway. Correspondingly, both insulin receptor and phospho-Akt levels were decreased in LRP1 forebrain knock-out mice. These results demonstrate that LRP1 mediates anti-apoptotic function in neurons by regulating insulin receptor and the Akt survival pathway and suggest that restoring LRP1 expression in Alzheimer disease brain might be beneficial to inhibiting neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34045-34053
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 4 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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