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J Biol Chem. 2000 Jun 30;275(26):19439-42.

Evidence that the beta-amyloid plaques of Alzheimer's disease represent the redox-silencing and entombment of abeta by zinc.

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Laboratory for Oxidation Biology, Genetics and Aging Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA.


Abeta binds Zn(2+), Cu(2+), and Fe(3+) in vitro, and these metals are markedly elevated in the neocortex and especially enriched in amyloid plaque deposits of individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Zn(2+) precipitates Abeta in vitro, and Cu(2+) interaction with Abeta promotes its neurotoxicity, correlating with metal reduction and the cell-free generation of H(2)O(2) (Abeta1-42 > Abeta1-40 > ratAbeta1-40). Because Zn(2+) is redox-inert, we studied the possibility that it may play an inhibitory role in H(2)O(2)-mediated Abeta toxicity. In competition to the cytotoxic potentiation caused by coincubation with Cu(2+), Zn(2+) rescued primary cortical and human embryonic kidney 293 cells that were exposed to Abeta1-42, correlating with the effect of Zn(2+) in suppressing Cu(2+)-dependent H(2)O(2) formation from Abeta1-42. Since plaques contain exceptionally high concentrations of Zn(2+), we examined the relationship between oxidation (8-OH guanosine) levels in AD-affected tissue and histological amyloid burden and found a significant negative correlation. These data suggest a protective role for Zn(2+) in AD, where plaques form as the result of a more robust Zn(2+) antioxidant response to the underlying oxidative attack.

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