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The immunosuppressant rapamycin exacerbates neurotoxicity of Aβ peptide



Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system characterized by two major lesions: extracellular senile plaques and intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles. β-Amyloid (Aβ) is known to play a major role in the pathogenesis of AD. Protein synthesis and especially translation initiation are modulated by different factors, including the PKR/eIF2 and the mTOR/p70S6K pathways. mRNA translation is altered in the brain of AD patients. Very little is known about the translation control mediated by mTOR in AD, although mTOR is a central regulator of translation initiation and also ribosome biogenesis and cell growth and proliferation. In this study, by using Western blotting, we show that mTOR pathway is down-regulated by Aβ treatment in human neuroblastoma cells, and the underlying mechanism explaining a transient activation of p70S6K is linked to cross-talk between mTOR and ERK1/2 at this kinase level. This phenomenon is associated with caspase-3 activation, and inhibition of mTOR by the inhibitor rapamycin enhances Aβ-induced cell death. Moreover, in our cell model, insulin-like growth factor-1 is able to increase markedly the p70S6K phosphorylation controlled by mTOR and reduces the caspase-3 activity, but its protective effect on Aβ cell death is mediated via an mTOR-independent pathway. These results demonstrate that mTOR plays an important role as a cellular survival pathway in Aβ toxicity and could represent a possible target for modulating Aβ toxicity. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.