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ISRN Biochemistry
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 728571, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/728571
Review Article

Calpain Dysregulation in Alzheimer’s Disease

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 303 E. Chicago Avenue, Ward 8-140, Chicago, IL 60611, USA

Received 26 August 2012; Accepted 12 September 2012

Academic Editors: A. Caceres and B. Lenarcic

Copyright © 2012 Adriana Ferreira. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by the presence of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the neocortex and hippocampus of AD patients. In addition, a marked decrease in synaptic contacts has been detected in these affected brain areas. Due to its prevalence in the aging population, this disease has been the focus of numerous studies. The data obtained from those studies suggest that the mechanisms leading to the formation of the hallmark lesions of AD might be linked. One of such mechanisms seems to be the dysregulation of calcium homeostasis that results in the abnormal activation of calpains. Calpains are a family of Ca2+-dependent cysteine proteases that play a key role in multiple cell functions including cell development, differentiation and proliferation, axonal guidance, growth cone motility, and cell death, among others. In this paper, we briefly reviewed data on the structure of these proteases and their regulation under normal conditions. We also summarized data underscoring the participation of calpains in the neurodegenerative mechanisms associated with AD.