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Neuroscience. 2002;110(2):199-211.

Intracellular accumulation of beta-amyloid(1-42) in neurons is facilitated by the alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, 08084, USA. naglero@umdnj.edu

Abstract

Amyloid beta(1-42), a major component of amyloid plaques, binds with exceptionally high affinity to the alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and accumulates intracellularly in neurons of Alzheimer's disease brains. In this study, we investigated the possibility that this binding plays a key role in facilitating intraneuronal accumulation of amyloid beta(1-42). Consecutive section immunohistochemistry and digital imaging were used to reveal the spatial relationship between amyloid beta(1-42) and the alpha 7 receptor in affected neurons of Alzheimer's disease brains. Results showed that neurons containing substantial intracellular accumulations of amyloid beta(1-42) invariably express relatively high levels of the alpha 7 receptor. Furthermore, this receptor is highly co-localized with amyloid beta(1-42) within neurons of Alzheimer's disease brains. To experimentally test the possibility that the binding interaction between exogenous amyloid beta(1-42) and the alpha 7 receptor facilitates internalization and intracellular accumulation of amyloid beta(1-42) in Alzheimer's disease brains, we studied the fate of exogenous amyloid beta(1-42) and its interaction with the alpha 7 receptor in vitro using cultured, transfected neuroblastoma cells that express elevated levels of this receptor. Transfected cells exhibited rapid binding, internalization and accumulation of exogenous amyloid beta(1-42), but not amyloid beta(1-40). Furthermore, the rate and extent of amyloid beta(1-42) internalization was related directly to the alpha 7 receptor protein level, since (1) the rate of amyloid beta(1-42) accumulation was much lower in untransfected cells that express much lower levels of this receptor and (2) internalization was effectively blocked by alpha-bungarotoxin, an alpha 7 receptor antagonist. As in neurons of Alzheimer's disease brains, the alpha 7 receptor in transfected cells was precisely co-localized with amyloid beta(1-42) in prominent intracellular aggregates. Internalization of amyloid beta(1-42) in transfected cells was blocked by phenylarsine oxide, an inhibitor of endocytosis. We suggest that the intraneuronal accumulation of amyloid beta(1-42) in Alzheimer's disease brains occurs predominantly in neurons that express the alpha 7 receptor. In addition, internalization of amyloid beta(1-42) may be facilitated by the high-affinity binding of amyloid beta(1-42) to the alpha 7 receptor on neuronal cell surfaces, followed by endocytosis of the resulting complex. This provides a plausible explanation for the selective vulnerability of neurons expressing the alpha 7 receptor in Alzheimer's disease brains and for the fact that amyloid beta(1-42) is the dominant amyloid beta peptide species in intracellular accumulations and amyloid plaques.

PMID:
11958863
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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