Visual Universitätsmedizin Mainz


Development of new drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease

Evaluation of Acitretin as α-secretase activator and modulator of the immune system

Amyloid-plaques which are typical for Alzheimer's Disease develop due to wrong splicing of the amyloid-precursor-protein (APP). Under normal circumstances, α-secretase demerges neuroprotective APPSα-peptide which can be measured in cerebro-spinal fluid. Thus it would make sense to investigate substances that activate non-amyloidogenic metabolic pathways for future therapies of Alzheimer's Disease, i.e. the so called α-secretase activators.

Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. F. Fahrenholz, Fr. Dr. K. Endres and co-workers recently demonstrated in laboratory and animal experiments, that Acitretin, a substance related to vitamin A that is also used for the treatment of psoriasis, is a strong α-secretase activator.

In a randomized, double blind and placebo controlled study jointly conducted by the groups of Prof. Dr. Fellgiebel and PD Dr. Endres to demonstrate this expected mode of action of Acitretin by measuring the APPsα concentration in the cerebro-spinal fluid of treated patients of early and mild AD compared to placebo. The project was funded by the Alzheimer Research Initiative (AFI).


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2. Endres K, Fahrenholz F. Regulation of alpha-secretase ADAM10 expression and activity. Experimental brain research Experimentelle Hirnforschung Experimentation cerebrale 2012; 217(3-4): 343-52.

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