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J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;21(1):35-48. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-100009.

The pathological cross talk between apolipoprotein E and amyloid-beta peptide in Alzheimer's disease: emerging gene-based therapeutic approaches.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, National Research Counci, Institute of Neurobiology and Molecular Medicine, Rome, Italy.


Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) plays a key role in lipid transport in the plasma and in the central nervous system through its interaction with members of the low-density lipoprotein receptor family. The three common isoforms of ApoE (ApoE2, ApoE3, and ApoE4) differ in their ability to perform neuronal maintenance and repair functions and differentially affect the risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders. The ApoE4 isoform is a strong genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. Up-to-date knowledge about the structural and biophysical features of ApoE4 shed light on the molecular basis underlying the isoform-specific pathogenic role of ApoE4 and its contribution to AD pathology through several different mechanisms. ApoE4 impacts on amyloid-beta (Abeta) production, Abeta clearance, Abeta fibrillation, and tangle formation as well as on mitochondrial functions leading to neuronal toxicity and synaptic damage. This review summarizes the pathological cross talk between ApoE and Abeta peptide in Alzheimer's disease. Lastly, we examine emerging gene-based therapeutic approaches encompassing the use of ApoE and their potential opportunities to preventing or treating Alzheimer's disease.

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