Chan et al. (Abstract 1421) used immunoblot analysis to quantitatively demonstrate that the polypeptides corresponding to AMPA (GluR2 and 3) and NMDA subfamilies of the glutamate receptors are decreased in AD brain lysates compared to brain lysates from most nondemented controls. Furthermore, they showed that treatment of eight-day-old cortical cultures with Aβ induced similar breakdown of the Glu receptors. This breakdown could be protected by addition of zVAD-FMK, a broad spectrum caspase inhibitor. Their data suggest that cleavage of the Glu receptors by caspases slows calcium responses, making them more susceptible to death by apoptosis rather than necrosis.—June Kinoshita

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