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Neurobiol Dis. 2002 Aug;10(3):258-67.

Beta-amyloid fragment 25-35 causes mitochondrial dysfunction in primary cortical neurons.

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Division of Neurochemistry, Institute of Neurology, University College London, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom.


Beta-amyloid deposition and compromised energy metabolism both occur in vulnerable brain regions in Alzheimer's disease. It is not known whether beta-amyloid is the cause of impairment of energy metabolism, nor whether impaired energy metabolism is specific to neurons. Our results, using primary neuronal cultures, show that 24-h incubation with A beta(25-35) caused a generalized decrease in the specific activity of mitochondrial enzymes per milligram of cellular protein, induced mitochondrial swelling, and decreased total mitochondrial number. Incubation with A beta(25-35) decreased ATP concentration to 58% of control in neurons and 71% of control in astrocytes. Levels of reduced glutathione were also lowered by A beta(25-35) in both neurons (from 5.1 to 2.9 nmol/mg protein) and astrocytes (from 25.2 to 14.9 nmol/mg protein). We conclude that 24-h treatment with extracellular A beta(25-35) causes mitochondrial dysfunction in both astrocytes and neurons, the latter being more seriously affected. In astrocytes mitochondrial impairment was confined to complex I inhibition, whereas in neurons a generalized loss of mitochondria was seen.

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