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The granin neuropeptide family is composed of acidic secretory signaling molecules that act throughout the nervous system to help modulate synaptic signaling and neural activity. Granin neuropeptides have been shown to be dysregulated in different forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recent studies have suggested that the granin neuropeptides and their protease-cleaved bioactive peptides (proteoforms) may act as both powerful drivers of gene expression and as a biomarker of synaptic health in AD. The complexity of granin proteoforms in human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and brain tissue has not been directly addressed. We developed a reliable nontryptic mass spectrometry assay to comprehensively map and quantify endogenous neuropeptide proteoforms in the brain and CSF of individuals diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and dementia due to AD compared to healthy controls, individuals with preserved cognition despite AD pathology ("Resilient"), and those with impaired cognition but no AD or other discernible pathology ("Frail"). We drew associations between neuropeptide proteoforms, cognitive status, and AD pathology values. Decreased levels of VGF proteoforms were observed in CSF and brain tissue from individuals with AD compared to controls, while select proteoforms from chromogranin A showed the opposite effect. To address mechanisms of neuropeptide proteoform regulation, we showed that the proteases Calpain-1 and Cathepsin S can cleave chromogranin A, secretogranin-1, and VGF into proteoforms found in both the brain and CSF. We were unable to demonstrate differences in protease abundance in protein extracts from matched brains, suggesting that regulation may occur at the level of transcription.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Soc Mass Spectrom

Publication Date