The upside of APP at synapses

Hyang Sook Hoe, Hey Kyoung Lee, Daniel T.S. Pak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The memory dysfunctions that characterize Alzheimer's disease (AD) are strongly correlated with synapse loss. The amyloid precursor protein (APP) and its cleavage product Aβ play central roles in synapse and memory loss, and thus are strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of AD. Numerous in vitro and transgenic AD mouse model studies have shown that overexpression of APP leads to Aβ accumulation, which causes decreased synaptic activity and dendritic spine density. However, the normal synaptic function of APP itself is not fully understood. Several recent studies have found that full-length APP promotes synaptic activity, synapse formation, and dendritic spine formation. These findings cast APP as a potential key player in learning and memory. It is of interest that the synaptic functions of full-length APP are opposite to the effects associated with pathological Aβ accumulation. In this review, we will summarize the normal functions of APP at synapses and spines along with other known functions of APP, including its role in cell motility, neuronal migration, and neurite outgrowth. These studies shed light on the physiological actions of APP, independent of Aβ effects, and thus lead to a better understanding of the synaptic dysfunctions associated with AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-56
Number of pages10
JournalCNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • APP
  • Abeta
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid plaque
  • Dendritic spines
  • Glutamate receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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