Aβ42 generation is toxic to endothelial cells and inhibits eNOS function through an Akt/GSK-3β signaling-dependent mechanism
The application of beta-amyloid (Abeta) is cytotoxic to endothelial cells, promotes vasoconstriction and impairs nitric oxide (NO) generation or action. However, there is no information on the effect of intracellular Abeta on endothelial cell biology, although recent studies indicate that neuronal Abeta drives Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis. Since the serine-threonine kinase Akt is crucial to both neuronal and endothelial cell survival as well as eNOS activation, we investigated the effects of Abeta expression on Akt-signaling in cultured endothelial cells. Virally-encoded Abeta42 was proapoptotic and inhibitory to Akt phosphorylation in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Toxicity was characterized by mitochondrial dysfunction, DNA condensation and activation of caspase-3. Substrates downstream of Akt action, GSK-3beta and eNOS, are underphosphorylated in the presence of Abeta. Constitutive activation of Akt reversed Abeta-induced toxicity and stimulated caspase-3 activity, suggesting that inhibition of Akt signaling is functionally significant. These Abeta effects were mediated, in part, through the derepression of GSK-3beta activation and correlated with reductions in NO production. We conclude that intracellular production of Abeta42 is cytotoxic to endothelial cells and that disruption of the Akt/GSK-3beta cell signaling pathway is involved.