Dr. Jennifer C Palmer and colleagues at the University of Bristol have discovered that endothelin converting enzyme-2 (ECE-2) may cause the decrease in cerebral blood flow seen in Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Aβ peptide, which accumulates in the brain of Alzheimer's disease patients, is thought to lead to tightening of the blood vessels and reduction of cerebral blood flood. ECE-2 may contribute to these symptoms by converting an inactive precursor to endothelin-1, which constricts blood vessels.
To determine if ECE-2 affects cerebral blood flow in Alzheimer's disease, Palmer et al examined the expression of ECE-2. They found that ECE-2 levels were elevated in patients with Alzheimer's disease and that Aβ could increase ECE-2 expression in vitro. These data indicate that ECE-2 levels are increased in response to Aβ and may cause the decrease in cerebral blood flow seen in Alzheimer's disease.
Palmer et al "suggest that [endothelin-1] receptor antagonists, already licensed for treating other diseases, could be of benefit in [Alzheimer's disease] therapies."
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