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Keywords:

  • astrocytes;
  • β-amyloid protein;
  • diazepam-binding inhibitor;
  • octadecaneuropeptide

Abstract

Accumulation of β-amyloid peptide (Aβ), which is a landmark of Alzheimer's disease, may alter astrocyte functions before any visible symptoms of the disease occur. Here, we examined the effects of Aβ on biosynthesis and release of diazepam-binding inhibitor (DBI), a polypeptide primarily expressed by astroglial cells in the CNS. Quantitative RT–PCR and specific radioimmunoassay demonstrated that aggregated Aβ25−35, at concentrations up to 10−4 m, induced a dose-dependent increase in DBI mRNA expression and DBI-related peptide release from cultured rat astrocytes. These effects were totally suppressed when aggregation of Aβ25−35 was prevented by Congo red. Measurement of the number of living cells revealed that Aβ25−35 induced a trophic rather than a toxic effect on astrocytes. Administration of cycloheximide blocked Aβ25−35-induced increase of DBI gene expression and endozepine accumulation in astrocytes, indicating that protein synthesis is required for DBI gene expression. Altogether, the present data suggest that Aβ-induced activation of endozepine biosynthesis and release may contribute to astrocyte proliferation associated with Alzheimer's disease.