Title

Activation of Caspase-8 in the Alzheimer's Disease Brain

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-1-2001

Abstract

Recent studies support the activation of apoptotic pathways in the Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain. Neurons committed to apoptosis may do so by either activation of a receptor-mediated pathway employing caspase-8 or through an alternative mitochondrial pathway involving oxidative stress. In the present study, the role of caspase-8 in the AD brain was examined by designing a caspase-cleavage site-directed antibody to one of the active fragments of caspase-8. In vitro analysis with this antibody, termed CASP-8p18, demonstrated that it recognized the active 18-kDa fragment of caspase-8 but not the precursor protein. In vivo immunohistochemical analysis using hippocampal tissue sections from AD or aged-matched control brains demonstrated CASP-8p18 immunolabeling of neurons in all AD cases, whereas little staining was observed in controls. These results were confirmed using a commercially available antibody that, like the CASP-8p18 antibody reacts only with the 18-kDa fragment of caspase-8 and not full-length caspase-8. As with CASP-8p18 antibody, the commercial antibody-labeled neurons in all AD cases, while showing a relative paucity of staining in representative control cases. Labeling of CASP-8p18 within tangle-bearing neurons was observed in double-labeling studies with AT8 or PHF-1, both markers for neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). In addition, using a caspase-cleavage site-directed antibody that recognizes cleavage products of caspase-3 showed colocalization of this antibody with the CASP-8p18 antibody within NFTs. These results suggest a role for caspase-8 and the receptor-mediated apoptotic pathway as a mechanism leading to the activation of caspase-3 within neurons of the AD brain.