Send to

Choose Destination
Biochemistry. 2000 Nov 21;39(46):14203-10.

Oxidative regulation of fatty acid-induced tau polymerization.

Author information

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology and The Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois 60611-3008, USA.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by the presence of amyloid-positive senile plaques and tau-positive neurofibrillary tangles. Aside from these two pathological hallmarks, a growing body of evidence indicates that the amount of oxidative alteration of vulnerable molecules such as proteins, DNA, and fatty acids is elevated in the brains of AD patients. It has been hypothesized that the elevated amounts of protein oxidation could lead directly to the formation of neurofibrillary tangles through a cysteine-dependent mechanism. We have tested this hypothesis in an in vitro system in which tau assembly is induced by fatty acids. Using sulfhydryl protective agents and site-directed mutagenesis, we found that cysteine-dependent oxidation of the tau molecule is not required for its polymerization and may even be inhibitory. However, by adjusting the oxidative environment of the polymerization reaction through the addition of a strong antioxidant or through the addition of an oxidizing system consisting of iron, adenosine diphosphate, and ascorbate, we found that oxidation does play a major role in our in vitro paradigm. The results indicated that fatty acid oxidation, the amount of which is found to be elevated in AD patients, can facilitate the polymerization of tau. However, "overoxidation" of the fatty acids can inhibit the process. Therefore, we postulate that specific fatty acid oxidative products could provide a direct link between oxidative stress mechanisms and the formation of neurofibrillary tangles in AD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Chemical Society
Loading ...
Support Center