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Divergent metabolic regulation of autophagy and mTORC1-early events in Alzheimer's disease?

Harris, Matthew; Shafei, Mai; Conway, Myra E.

Divergent metabolic regulation of autophagy and mTORC1-early events in Alzheimer's disease? Thumbnail


Matthew Harris

Mai Shafei

Myra Conway
Occasional Associate Lecturer - HAS DAS


© 2017 Shafei, Harris and Conway. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive disease associated with the production and deposition of amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) aggregates and neurofibrillary tangles, which lead to synaptic and neuronal damage. Reduced autophagic flux has been widely associated with the accumulation of autophagic vacuoles (AV), which has been proposed to contribute to aggregate build-up observed in AD. As such, targeting autophagy regulation has received wide review, where an understanding as to how this mechanism can be controlled will be important to neuronal health. The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), which was found to be hyperactive in AD brain, regulates autophagy and is considered to be mechanistically important to aberrant autophagy in AD. Hormones and nutrients such as insulin and leucine, respectively, positively regulate mTORC1 activation and are largely considered to inhibit autophagy. However, in AD brain there is a dysregulation of nutrient metabolism, linked to insulin resistance, where a role for insulin treatment to improve cognition has been proposed. Recent studies have highlighted that mitochondrial proteins such as glutamate dehydrogenase and the human branched chain aminotransferase protein, through metabolism of leucine and glutamate, differentially regulate mTORC1 and autophagy. As the levels of the hBCAT proteins are significantly increased in AD brain relative to aged-matched controls, we discuss how these metabolic pathways offer new potential therapeutic targets. In this review article, we highlight the core regulation of autophagy through mTORC1, focusing on how insulin and leucine will be important to consider in particular with respect to our understanding of nutrient load and AD pathogenesis.


Harris, M., Shafei, M., & Conway, M. E. (2017). Divergent metabolic regulation of autophagy and mTORC1-early events in Alzheimer's disease?. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 9(JUN),

Journal Article Type Short Survey
Acceptance Date May 17, 2017
Publication Date Jun 2, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jun 13, 2017
Journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Electronic ISSN 1663-4365
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue JUN
Keywords autophagy, mTORC1, Alzheimer’s disease, insulin, leucine, BCAT, GDH
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This Document is Protected by copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. It is reproduced with permission.