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Amyloid. 2001 Jul;8 Suppl 1:10-9.

Assembly of Alzheimer's amyloid-beta fibrils and approaches for therapeutic intervention.

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  • 1Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Amyloid plaques are the principal features of Alzheimers disease (AD) pathology and are considered to be a major factor in the disease process. These fibrillar deposits are composed primarily of the 40-42 residue amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptide which is a proteolytic product of a larger membrane precursor protein. Electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction have revealed that the mature amyloid fibrils are assembled as a highly beta-sheet polymer that has a well-defined protofilament quaternary structure. This organization is observed for amyloid fibrils from a wide variety of disorders and appears to represent a structural superfamily. Amyloid plaques also contain a number of other components such as proteoglycans that contain highly sulfated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chains. These amyloid-associated elements may contribute to the aggregation and/or stabilization of Abeta as insoluble fibrils. We have recently developed an aggressive model for Abeta plaque formation in transgenic mice that exhibits an "early-onset" phenotype. Immunocytochemistry has demonstrated that even with this rapid progression, Abeta deposits within the neuropil and cerebrovascular system all co-localize with heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG). These findings indicate a number of structural features that can be targeted as potential sites for the development of amyloid inhibitors. In addition, the use of small compounds that interfere with the proteoglycan-amyloid pathway may be effective therapeutic agents that can be assessed through the use of these transgenic models.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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