Brain alpha-amylase - a novel energy regulator important in Alzheimer disease?

Elin Byman, Nina Schultz, , Malin Fex, Malin Wennström

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Reduced glucose metabolism and formation of polyglucosan bodies (PGB) are, beside amyloid beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, well-known pathological findings associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Since both glucose availability and PGB are regulated by enzymatic degradation of glycogen, we hypothesize that dysfunctional glycogen degradation is a critical event in AD progression. We therefore investigated whether alpha (α)-amylase, an enzyme known to efficiently degrade polysaccharides in the gastrointestinal tract, is expressed in the hippocampal CA1/subiculum and if the expression is altered in AD patients. Using immunohistochemical staining techniques, we show the presence of the α-amylase isotypes AMY1A and AMY2A in neuronal dendritic spines, pericytes and astrocytes. Moreover, AD patients showed reduced gene expression of α-amylase, but conversely increased protein levels of α-amylase as well as increased activity of the enzyme compared to non-demented controls. Lastly, we observed increased, albeit not significant, load of periodic acid-Schiff positive PGB in the brain of AD patients, which correlated with increased α-amylase activity. These findings show that α-amylase is expressed and active in the human brain, and suggest the enzyme to be affected, alternatively play a role, in the neurodegenerative Alzheimer's disease pathology. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)920-932
JournalBrain Pathology
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Journal Article


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