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Endothelin-converting enzyme-1 in Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia


Jennifer C. Palmer, Dementia Research Group, John James Building, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol BS16 1LE, UK. E-mail:


J. C. Palmer, P. G. Kehoe and S. Love (2010) Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology36, 487–497
Endothelin-converting enzyme-1 in Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia

Aims: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is believed to be caused by the accumulation of amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide within the brain. Endothelin-converting enzyme-1 and 2 (ECE-1 and ECE-2) are expressed in endothelial cells and neurones, respectively, and both cleave ‘big endothelin’ to produce the vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 (ET-1). ECE-1 and ECE-2 also degrade Aβ. AD patients have regionally reduced microvascular blood flow in the brain, with impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation and cerebrovascular autoregulation, and abnormal production of ET-1 has been demonstrated in mice overexpressing amyloid precursor protein. We recently found ECE-2 mRNA and protein to be elevated in the brain in AD. In vitro, expression of ECE-2 was upregulated by Aβ. Our aims for this study were to examine expression of ECE-1 (which has 57% homology with ECE-2) in temporal cortex from patients with AD, vascular dementia (VaD) and controls. Methods: We examined the distribution of ECE-1 with immunohistochemistry, and measured ECE-1 mRNA by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). ECE-1 protein levels were measured by western blot, and results analysed before and after adjustment for factor VIII-related antigen. Results: We showed ECE-1 to be in vascular endothelial cells. We did not find significant differences in ECE-1 mRNA or protein levels (either full-length ECE-1 or the soluble spliced variant, ECE-1sv) in AD or VaD compared with controls. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that any disease-specific contribution of ECE-1 to the accumulation of Aβ or reduction in local microvascular blood flow in AD or VaD is probably small, with abnormal production of ET-1 being more likely to reflect Aβ-mediated upregulation of ECE-2.