In Alzheimer's disease, deposits of amyloid β-protein are apparently derived from intracellular processing of a large precursor protein. We have measured concentrations of this precursor in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from six members of a family affected by presenile Alzheimer's disease associated with a point mutation of the precursor gene. One gene carrier with clinical signs of the disorder had low CSF concentrations of the precursor, similar to those of three patients with sporadic Alzheimer's disease subsequently confirmed at necropsy. Two symptom-free gene carriers had CSF precursor concentrations similar to those of non-demented controls, though the value was lower in one, who had deficits revealed on neuropsychological testing, than in the other. These findings suggest that low concentrations of soluble amyloid precursor proteins in the CSF reflect the process that results in amyloid plaque formation and vascular deposition in Alzheimer's disease.
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