Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterised by the aggregation and deposition of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides in the human brain. In age-related late-onset AD, deficient degradation and clearance, rather than enhanced production, of Aβ contributes to disease pathology. In this study, we assessed the contribution of the two key Aβ-degrading zinc metalloproteases, insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) and neprilysin (NEP), to Aβ degradation in human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cortical neurons. Using an Aβ fluorescence polarisation assay, inhibition of IDE but not of NEP, blocked the degradation of Aβ by human neurons. When the neurons were grown in a 3D extracellular matrix to visualise Aβ deposition, inhibition of IDE but not NEP, increased the number of Aβ deposits. The resulting Aβ deposits were stained with the conformation-dependent, anti-amyloid antibodies A11 and OC that recognise Aβ aggregates in the human AD brain. Inhibition of the Aβ-forming β-secretase prevented the formation of the IDE-inhibited Aβ deposits. These data indicate that inhibition of IDE in live human neurons grown in a 3D matrix increased the deposition of Aβ derived from the proteolytic cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein. This work has implications for strategies aimed at enhancing IDE activity to promote Aβ degradation in AD.
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