Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), CRF-binding protein (CRF-BP), and CRF/CRF-BP complex in Alzheimer's disease and control postmortem human brain

Dominic P. Behan, On Khongsaly, Michael J. Owens, Hyung D. Chung, Charles B. Nemeroff, Errol B. De Souza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


In Alzheimer's disease (AD) there are dramatic reductions in human corticotropin-releasing factor (hCRF) concentration and reciprocal increases in CRF receptor density in the cortex. hCRF-binding protein (hCRF-BP), hCRF/hCRF-BP complex, and 'free' hCRF were measured in 10 brain regions from control and AD postmortem human tissue. In the control brains hCRFBP was heterogenously distributed and levels were at least 10-fold higher on a molar basis than total hCRF levels, suggesting that one major role of the binding protein is to limit the actions of hCRF at the hCRF receptors. Concordant with this hypothesis, the percentage of total hCRF that was in the bound inactive form ranged from 65 to 90% in most areas examined, with the exception of the caudate and globus pallidus where only 15 and 40% were complexed, respectively, hCRF-BP concentrations were similar in the control and AD groups except for Brodmann area (BA) 39 where there was a small but significant decrease in the AD group. Complexed hCRF levels were significantly decreased in BA 8/BA 9, BA 22, BA 39, nucleus basalis, and globus pallidus in the alzheimer's and free hCRF levels were significantly decreased only in three brain areas, BA 4, BA 39, and caudate; substantial (40%) but nonsignificant decreases were also noted in BA 8/BA 9 and BA 22. These data demonstrate that (1) a large proportion of the total hCRF in human brain is complexed to hCRF-BP and thus unavailable for hCRF receptor activation, (2) reductions in total hCRF alone do not necessarily predict reductions in bioactive free hCRF, and (3) total hCRF levels and hCRFBP levels appear to be the main factors determining the quantity of bound and free hCRF in human brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2053-2060
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Corticotropin
  • Dementia
  • releasing factor receptor
  • Stress
  • Urocortin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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