AD (Alzheimer's disease) is an age-associated neurodegenerative disorder where the accumulation of neurotoxic Aβ (amyloid β-peptide) in senile plaques is a typical feature. Recent studies point out a relationship between Aβ neurotoxicity and Ca2+ dyshomoeostasis, but the molecular mechanisms involved are still under discussion. The PMCAs (plasma membrane Ca2+-ATPases) are a multi-isoform family of proteins highly expressed in brain that is implicated in the maintenance of low intraneural Ca2+ concentration. Therefore the malfunction of this pump may also be responsible for Ca2+ homoeostasis failure in AD. We have found that the Ca2+-dependence of PMCA activity is affected in human brains diagnosed with AD, being related to the enrichment of Aβ. The peptide produces an inhibitory effect on the activity of PMCA which is isoform-specific, with the greatest inhibition of PMCA4. Besides, cholesterol blocked the inhibitory effect of Aβ, which is consistent with the lack of any Aβ effect on PMCA4 found in cholesterol-enriched lipid rafts isolated from pig brain. These observations suggest that PMCAs are a functional component of the machinery that leads to Ca2+ dysregulation in AD and propose cholesterol enrichment in rafts as a protector of the Aβ-mediated inhibition on PMCA.

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