Medical Definition of Beta-secretase

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Beta-secretase: An enzyme that appears to be directly involved in the early development of Alzheimer's disease. Beta-secretase is a protease (an enzyme that catalyses the splitting of interior peptide bonds in a protein). Beta-secretase acts by trimming off a protein protruding from a brain cell. This small snip is thought to be the first step in the buildup of microscopic balls of debris known as amyloid that are toxic to brain cells. The brain cells (neurons) gradually die and with them slowly go the person's memory and other mental faculties.

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Reviewed on 12/31/2018

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