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ABSTRACT: Progressive dysfunction and death of neurons in Alzheimer's dementia is enhanced in patients carrying one or more APOE4 alleles who also display increased presence of oxidative stress markers. Modulation of oxidative stress is a nontraditional and physiologically relevant immunomodulatory function of apolipoprotein E (apoE). Stimulated peritoneal macrophages from APOE-transgenic replacement (APOE-TR) mice expressing only human apoE3 or human apoE4 protein isoforms were utilized as mouse models to investigate the role of apoE protein isoforms and gender in the regulation of oxidative stress. Macrophages from male APOE4/4-TR mice produced significantly higher levels of nitric oxide than from male APOE3/3-TR mice, while macrophages from female APOE3/3-TR and female APOE4/4-TR mice produced the similar levels of nitric oxide. Primary cultures of microglial cells of APOE4 transgenic mice also produced significantly more nitric oxide than microglia from APOE3 transgenic mice. These data suggest a potentially novel mechanism for gender-dependent and apoE isoform-dependent immune responses that parallel the genetic susceptibility of APOE4 carriers for the development of Alzheimer's disease.