Statins cause intracellular accumulation of amyloid precursor protein, β-secretase-cleaved fragments, and amyloid β-peptide via an isoprenoid-dependent mechanism

Sarah L. Cole*, Aneta Grudzien, Ingrid O. Manhart, Brent L. Kelly, Holly Oakley, Robert Vassar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations

Abstract

The use of statins, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibitors that block the synthesis of mevalonate (and downstream products such as cholesterol and nonsterol isoprenoids), as a therapy for Alzheimer disease is currently the subject of intense debate. It has been reported that statins reduce the risk of developing the disorder, and a link between cholesterol and Alzheimer disease pathophysiology has been proposed. Moreover, experimental studies focusing on the cholesterol-dependent effects of statins have demonstrated a close association between cellular cholesterol levels and amyloid production. However, evidence suggests that statins are pleiotropic, and the potential cholesterol-independent effects of statins on amyloid precursor protein (APP) metabolism and amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) genesis are unknown. In this study, we developed a novel in vitro system that enabled the discrete analysis of cholesterol-dependent and -independent (i.e. isoprenoid-dependent) statin effects on APP cleavage and Aβ formation. Given the recent interest in the role that intracellular Aβ may play in Alzheimer disease, we analyzed statin effects on both secreted and cell-associated Aβ. As reported previously, low cellular cholesterol levels favored the α-secretase pathway and decreased A secretion presumably within the endocytic pathway. In contrast, low isoprenoid levels resulted in the accumulation of APP, amyloidogenic fragments, and Aβ likely within biosynthetic compartments. Importantly, low cholesterol and low isoprenoid levels appeared to have completely independent effects on APP metabolism and Aβ formation. Although the implications of these effects for Alzheimer disease pathophysiology have yet to be investigated, to our knowledge, these results provide the first evidence that isoprenylation is involved in determining levels of intracellular Aβ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18755-18770
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume280
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - May 13 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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