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The orphan drug dichloroacetate reduces amyloid beta-peptide production whilst promoting non-amyloidogenic proteolysis of the amyloid precursor protein

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Article numbere0255715
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>13/01/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>PLoS ONE
Issue number1
Number of pages21
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The amyloid cascade hypothesis proposes that excessive accumulation of amyloid beta-peptides is the initiating event in Alzheimer's disease. These neurotoxic peptides are generated from the amyloid precursor protein via sequential cleavage by β- and γ-secretases in the 'amyloidogenic' proteolytic pathway. Alternatively, the amyloid precursor protein can be processed via the 'non-amyloidogenic' pathway which, through the action of the α-secretase a disintegrin and metalloproteinase (ADAM) 10, both precludes amyloid beta-peptide formation and has the additional benefit of generating a neuroprotective soluble amyloid precursor protein fragment, sAPPα. In the current study, we investigated whether the orphan drug, dichloroacetate, could alter amyloid precursor protein proteolysis. In SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, dichloroacetate enhanced sAPPα generation whilst inhibiting β-secretase processing of endogenous amyloid precursor protein and the subsequent generation of amyloid beta-peptides. Over-expression of the amyloid precursor protein partly ablated the effect of dichloroacetate on amyloidogenic and non-amyloidogenic processing whilst over-expression of the β-secretase only ablated the effect on amyloidogenic processing. Similar enhancement of ADAM-mediated amyloid precursor protein processing by dichloroacetate was observed in unrelated cell lines and the effect was not exclusive to the amyloid precursor protein as an ADAM substrate, as indicated by dichloroacetate-enhanced proteolysis of the Notch ligand, Jagged1. Despite altering proteolysis of the amyloid precursor protein, dichloroacetate did not significantly affect the expression/activity of α-, β- or γ-secretases. In conclusion, dichloroacetate can inhibit amyloidogenic and promote non-amyloidogenic proteolysis of the amyloid precursor protein. Given the small size and blood-brain-barrier permeability of the drug, further research into its mechanism of action with respect to APP proteolysis may lead to the development of therapies for slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease.