To elucidate the mechanism of neuronal death in Alzheimer's disease, we investigated the effects of overexpression of wild-type Alzheimer amyloid precursor protein (APP) on neuronal cells and glial cells in vivo. When an APP695-expressing adenovirus was injected into the dorsal hippocampal region, a number of neurons in remote areas were positively stained with anti-APP monoclonal antibody, and underwent severe degeneration from 3 to 7 days after viral inoculation. Most degenerating neurons were immunopositive with both APP and activated caspase-3, but some neurons that expressed activated caspase-3 were not expressing APP from 7 to 14 days after virus injection. In the neighborhood of the degenerating neurons, activated microglia/macrophages, which were identified by the phenotypic marker C3bi receptor (CD11b/c; OX-42), were observed, and some of them appeared to phagocytose the caspase-3-immunopositive degenerating neurons. In addition to microglia/macrophages, infiltrating leukocytes expressing CD45 or CD4 were also detected. These results suggest that the increased accumulation of APP induced not only caspase-3-mediated death machinery, but also inflammatory responses including microglial activation. These inflammatory responses might cause further neurodegeneration through the alternative pathway that might activate the caspase-3-mediated death machinery without APP expression. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
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