A number of studies have implicated a proline-directed protein kinase, glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) in the hyperphosphorylation of tau in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Toward understanding the role of GSK-3 in the abnormal hyperphosphorylation of tau in AD we have found that GSK-3 is prominently present in neuronal cell bodies and their processes and co-localizes with neurofibrillary changes in AD brain. Furthermore, the levels of GSK-3 as determined by indirect ELISA are ˜50% increased in the postsynaptosomal supernatant from AD brains as compared to the controls. However, no increase in GSK-3 enzyme activity was detected. In AD brain, with its reduced phosphatase activity, even normal levels of GSK-3 activity might be sufficient for the hyperphosphorylation of tau.

Author notes

These studies were supported in part by the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities; NIH grants AG05892, AG08076, NS18105; and the Zenith Award (to KI) from the Alzheimer's Association, Chicago.