Inhibiting BACE1 to reverse synaptic dysfunctions in Alzheimer's disease

Riqiang Yan*, Qingyuan Fan, John Zhou, Robert Vassar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Over the past two decades, many studies have identified significant contributions of toxic β-amyloid peptides (Aβ) to the etiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD), which is the most common age-dependent neurodegenerative disease. AD is also recognized as a disease of synaptic failure. Aβ, generated by sequential proteolytic cleavages of amyloid precursor protein (APP) by BACE1 and γ-secretase, is one of major culprits that cause this failure. In this review, we summarize current findings on how BACE1-cleaved APP products impact learning and memory through proteins localized on glutamatergic, GABAergic, and dopaminergic synapses. Considering the broad effects of Aβ on all three types of synapses, BACE1 inhibition emerges as a practical approach for ameliorating Aβ-mediated synaptic dysfunctions. Since BACE1 inhibitory drugs are currently in clinical trials, this review also discusses potential complications arising from BACE1 inhibition. We emphasize that the benefits of BACE1 inhibitory drugs will outweigh the concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-340
Number of pages15
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • AMPA receptors
  • APP
  • Abeta peptides
  • Alzheimer's β-secretase
  • BACE1
  • Dopamine receptors
  • NMDA receptors
  • Synapses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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