Diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are associated with vascular complications and impaired nitric oxide (NO) production. Furthermore, increased β-site amyloid precursor protein–cleaving (APP-cleaving) enzyme 1 (BACE1), APP, and β-amyloid (Aβ) are linked with vascular disease development and increased BACE1 and Aβ accompany hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia. However, the causal relationship between obesity and diabetes, increased Aβ, and vascular dysfunction is unclear. We report that diet-induced obesity (DIO) in mice increased plasma and vascular Aβ42 that correlated with decreased NO bioavailability, endothelial dysfunction, and increased blood pressure. Genetic or pharmacological reduction of BACE1 activity and Aβ42 prevented and reversed, respectively, these outcomes. In contrast, expression of human mutant APP in mice or Aβ42 infusion into control diet–fed mice to mimic obese levels impaired NO production, vascular relaxation, and raised blood pressure. In humans, increased plasma Aβ42 correlated with diabetes and endothelial dysfunction. Mechanistically, higher Aβ42 reduced endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), cyclic GMP (cGMP), and protein kinase G (PKG) activity independently of diet, whereas endothelin-1 was increased by diet and Aβ42. Lowering Aβ42 reversed the DIO deficit in the eNOS/cGMP/PKG pathway and decreased endothelin-1. Our findings suggest that BACE1 inhibitors may have therapeutic value in the treatment of vascular disease associated with diabetes.


Paul J. Meakin, Bethany M. Coull, Zofia Tuharska, Christopher McCaffery, Ioannis Akoumianakis, Charalambos Antoniades, Jane Brown, Kathryn J. Griffin, Fiona Platt, Claire H. Ozber, Nadira Y. Yuldasheva, Natallia Makava, Anna Skromna, Alan Prescott, Alison D. McNeilly, Moneeza Siddiqui, Colin N.A. Palmer, Faisel Khan, Michael L.J. Ashford


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