Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology

Major Professor

David Morgan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marcia N. Gordon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Keith Pennypacker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edwin Weeber, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amyn Rojiani, M.D., Ph.D.


Beta amyloid, amyloid degrading enzyme, convection enhanced delivery, mannitol, adeno-associated viral vector, transgenic mice


Alzheimer's disease (AD), first characterized in the early 20th century, is a common form of dementia which can occur as a result of genetic mutations in the genes encoding presenilin 1, presenilin 2, or amyloid precursor protein (APP). These genetic alterations can accelerate the pathological characteristics of AD, including the formation of extracellular neuritic plaques composed of amyloid beta peptides and the formation of intracellular neurofibrillary tangles consisting of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. Ultimately, AD results in gross neuron loss in the brain which is evidenced clinically as a progressive decline in mental capacity. A strong body of scientific evidence has previously demonstrated that the driving factor in the pathogenesis of AD is potentially the accumulation of Aß peptides in the brain. Thus, reduction of Aß deposition is a major therapeutic strategy in the treatment of AD. Recently it has been suggested that Aß accumulation in the brain is modulated, not only by Aß production, but also by its degradation. Several important studies have demonstrated that Aß degradation is modulated by several endogenous zinc metalloproteases shown to have amyloid degrading capabilities. These endogenous proteases include neprilysin (NEP), endothelin converting enzyme (ECE), insulin degrading enzyme (IDE) and matrix metalloprotease 9 (MMP9). In this investigation we study the effects of upregulating expression of several of these proteases through administration of recombinant adeno-associated viral vector (rAAV) containing both endogenous and synthetic genes for ECE and NEP on amyloid deposition in amyloid precursor protein (APP) plus presenilin-1 (PS1) transgenic mice. rAAV administration directly into the brain resulted in increased expression of ECE and NEP and a substantial decrease in amyloid pathology. We were able to significantly increase the area of viral distribution by using novel delivery methods resulting in increased gene expression and distribution.

These data support great potential of gene therapy as a method of treatment for neurological diseases. Optimization of gene transfer methods aimed at a particular cell type and brain region in the CNS can be accomplished using AAV serotype specificity and novel delivery techniques leading to successful gene transduction thus providing a promising therapeutic avenue through which to treat AD.