Decreased phospholipase A2 activity in Alzheimer brains

Wagner F. Gattaz, Athanasios Maras, Nigel J. Cairns, Raymond Levy, Hans Förstl

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Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) is a key-enzyme in the metabolism of membrane phospholipids. In cholinergic neurons PLA2 controls the physico-chemical properties of neuronal membranes as well as the breakdown of phosphatidylcholine to produce choline for acetylcholine synthesis. Moreover PLA2 influences the processing and secretion of the amyloid precursor protein, which gives rise to the β-amyloid peptide, the major component of the amyloid plaque in Alzheimer's disease (AD). In the present study PLA2 activity was investigated in post-mortem brains from 23 patients with AD and 20 nondemented elderly controls. In AD brains PLA2 activity was significantly decreased in the parietal and to a lesser degree in the frontal cortex. Lower PLA2 activity correlated significantly with an earlier onset of the disease, higher counts of neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques and an earlier age at death, indicating a relationship between abnormally low PLA2 activity and a more severe form of the illness. The present results provide new evidence for a disordered phospholipid metabolism in AD brains and suggest that reduced PLA2 activity may contribute to the cholinergic deficit and to the production of amyloidogenic peptides in the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-17
Number of pages5
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • acetylcholine
  • amyloid precursor protein
  • brain phospholipids
  • choline
  • phospholipase A
  • β-amyloid


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