, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 287-289

The possible role of tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) and tPA blockers in the pathogenesis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the leading cause of cognitive decline in aged individuals. The pathological hallmarks of AD include the formation of neurofibrillary tangles, along with senile plaques that are mainly composed of the amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide. Several lines of evidence implicate the tPA/plasmin system in AD. One type of cell death observed in AD is excitotoxic neuronal damage, and the tPA/plasmin system participates in excitotoxic cell death. Recent in vitro experiments report that the addition of aggregated Aβ peptide to primary cortical neurons leads to the up-regulation of tPA mRNA expression. Additionally, plasmin (activated by tPA) attenuates Aβ neurotoxicity by degrading the peptide and rendering it inactive. However, there is no evidence to demonstrate an in vivo contribution of the tPA/plasmin system in AD. We are currently examining the effects of the tPA/plasmin system on the deposition and toxicity of the Aβ peptide with in vivo paradigms of AD. We hope to define the contribution of the tPA/plasmin system in the development of AD pathology.