Progressive decrease of amyloid precursor protein carboxy terminal fragments (APP-CTFs), associated with tau pathology stages, in Alzheimer's disease


Address correspondence and reprint requests to André Delacourte, INSERM U422, 1 Place de Verdun, 59045 Lille Cedex, France. E-mail:


Amyloid precursor protein (APP) dysfunction is a key aetiologic agent in Alzheimer's disease (AD). The processing of this transmembrane protein generates carboxy terminal fragments (CTFs) upstream of β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) production. The physiologic significance of APP-CTFs is still poorly understood, as well as the relationship that could link APP dysfunction and tau pathology in familial and non-familial AD (non-FAD). In the present study, we have investigated the quantitative and qualitative changes of APP-CTFs in different brain areas of non-demented and demented patients from a prospective and multidisciplinary study. A significant decrease of the five APP-CTFs was observed, which correlated well with the progression of tau pathology, in most cases with infraclinical AD and AD, either familial or non-FAD. Furthermore, solubility properties and the ratio between the five bands were also modified, both in the Triton-soluble and/or -insoluble fractions. Together, we show here for the first time a modification directly observed on APP-CTFs upstream of Aβ products and its relationship with tau pathology, which could reflect the basic aetiological mechanisms of AD.