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BACKGROUND: Members of membrane-bound disintegrin metalloproteinases (ADAMs) were shown to be capable of cleaving amyloid precursor protein (APP) at the alpha-cleavage site in different cell systems. One of the candidate alpha-secretases identified in this family is ADAM10. The present study addresses the following major questions: 1) Are the levels of an alpha-secretase candidate (i.e., ADAM10) reduced in accessible cells of Alzheimer Disease (AD) patients? 2) Are ADAM10 levels in the peripheral cells of AD patients related to a concomitant decrease in alpha APPs? MATERIALS AND METHODS: Western Blot analysis of ADAM10 is performed on platelet homogenates from 33 sporadic AD patients and on 26 age-matched control subjects. Moreover, the levels of alpha-secretase metabolite (alpha APPs) are tested both in platelets and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of the same pool of subjects by means of Western blot with a specific antibody. RESULTS: A significant decrease of platelet ADAM10 levels is observed in patients affected by probable AD when compared to control subjects and this is paralleled by a reduced level of alpha APPs released from platelets. Moreover, in the same pool of AD patients, alpha APPs levels were reduced concomitantly in CSF. CONCLUSIONS: ADAM10 is expressed in platelets. A reduced level of ADAM10 is observed in platelets obtained from AD patients compared to age-matched controls. Further, in the same pool of AD patients, a qualitatively and quantitatively similar decrease in alpha APPs is present both in thrombin-activated platelets and CSF, thus suggesting that alterations of APP processing might occur both in the neuronal compartment and peripheral cells.