Activation and redistribution of c-Jun N-terminal kinase/stress activated protein kinase in degenerating neurons in Alzheimer's disease

Xiongwei Zhu, Arun K. Raina, Catherine Rottkamp, Gjumrakch Aliev, George Perry, Heather Boux, Mark A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

354 Scopus citations


Cellular responses to increased oxidative stress appear to be a mechanism that contributes to the varied cytopathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this regard, we suspect that c-Jun N-terminal kinase/Stress activated protein kinase (JNK/SAPK), a major cellular stress response protein induced by oxidative stress, plays an important role in Alzheimer disease in susceptible neurons facing the dilemma of proliferation or death. We found that JNK2/SAPK-α and JNK3/SAPK-β were related to neurofibrillary pathology and JNK1/SAP-Kγ related to Hirano bodies in cases of AD but were only weakly diffuse in the cytoplasm in all neurons in control cases and in non-involved neurons in diseased brain. In this regard, in hippocampal and cortical regions of individuals with severe AD, the activated phospho-JNK/SAPK was localized exclusively in association with neurofibrillar alterations including neurofibrillary tangles, senile plaque neurites, neuropil threads and granulovacuolar degeneration structures (GVD), completely overlapping with τ-positive neurofibrillary pathology, but was virtually absent in these brain regions in younger and age-matched controls without pathology. However, in control patients with some pathology, as well as in mild AD cases, there was nuclear phospho-JNK/SAPK and translocation of phospho-JNK/SAPK from nuclei to cytoplasm, respectively, indicating that the activation and re-distribution of JNK/SAPK correlates with the progress of the disease. By immunoblot analysis, phospho-JNK/SAPK is significantly increased in AD over control cases. Together, these findings suggest that JNK/SAPK dysregulation, probably resulting from oxidative stress, plays an important role in the increased phosphorylation of cytoskeletal proteins found in AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-441
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 5 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Oxidative stress
  • Phosphorylation
  • Signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Activation and redistribution of c-Jun N-terminal kinase/stress activated protein kinase in degenerating neurons in Alzheimer's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this