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FEBS Lett. 2006 Sep 4;580(20):4842-50. Epub 2006 Aug 8.

Extracellular tau is toxic to neuronal cells.

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Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Facultad de Ciencias, Campus de Cantoblanco, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049-Madrid, Spain.


The degeneration of neurons in disorders such as Alzheimer's disease has an immediate consequence, the release of intracellular proteins into the extracellular space. One of these proteins, tau, has proven to be toxic when added to cultured neuronal cells. This toxicity varies according to the degree of protein aggregation. The addition of tau to cultured neuroblastoma cells provoked an increase in the levels of intracellular calcium, which is followed by cell death. We suggest that this phenomenon may be mediated by the interaction of tau with muscarinic receptors, which promotes the liberation of calcium from intracellular stores.

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