Testosterone reduces neuronal secretion of Alzheimer's β-amyloid peptides
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by the age-related deposition of beta-amyloid (Abeta) 40/42 peptide aggregates in vulnerable brain regions. Multiple levels of evidence implicate a central role for Abeta in the pathophysiology of AD. Abeta peptides are generated by the regulated cleavage of an approximately 700-aa Abeta precursor protein (betaAPP). Full-length betaAPP can undergo proteolytic cleavage either within the Abeta domain to generate secreted sbetaAPPalpha or at the N- and C-terminal domain(s) of Abeta to generate amyloidogenic Abeta peptides. Several epidemiological studies have reported that estrogen replacement therapy protects against the development of AD in postmenopausal women. We previously reported that treating cultured neurons with 17beta-estradiol reduced the secretion of Abeta40/42 peptides, suggesting that estrogen replacement therapy may protect women against the development of AD by regulating betaAPP metabolism. Increasing evidence indicates that testosterone, especially bioavailable testosterone, decreases with age in older men and in postmenopausal women. We report here that treatment with testosterone increases the secretion of the nonamyloidogenic APP fragment, sbetaAPPalpha, and decreases the secretion of Abeta peptides from N2a cells and rat primary cerebrocortical neurons. These results raise the possibility that testosterone supplementation in elderly men may be protective in the treatment of AD.