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Cerebrovascular Endothelial Dysfunction: Role of BACE1.

Dysfunctional endothelium is increasingly recognized as a mechanistic link between cardiovascular risk factors and dementia, including Alzheimer disease. BACE1 (β-site amyloid-β precursor protein-cleaving enzyme 1) is responsible for β-processing of APP (amyloid-β precursor protein), the first step in the production of Aβ (amyloid-β) peptides, major culprits in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease. Under pathological conditions, excessive activation of BACE1 exerts detrimental effects on endothelial function by Aβ-dependent and Aβ-independent mechanisms. High local concentration of Aβ in the brain blood vessels is responsible for the loss of key vascular protective functions of endothelial cells. More recent studies recognized significant contribution of Aβ-independent proteolytic activity of endothelial BACE1 to the pathogenesis of endothelial dysfunction. This review critically evaluates existing evidence supporting the concept that excessive activation of BACE1 expressed in the cerebrovascular endothelium impairs key homeostatic functions of the brain blood vessels. This concept has important therapeutic implications. Indeed, improved understanding of the mechanisms of endothelial dysfunction may help in efforts to develop new approaches to the protection and preservation of healthy cerebrovascular function.

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