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Alzheimers Dement. 2007 Apr;3(2):122-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2007.01.019.

Human brain myelination and amyloid beta deposition in Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


We hypothesized that myelin breakdown in vulnerable late-myelinating regions releases oligodendrocyte- and myelin-associated iron that promotes amyloid beta (A beta) oligomerization, its associated toxicity, and the deposition of oligomerized A beta and iron in neuritic plaques observed in Alzheimer's disease (AD). The model was tested by using published maps of cortical myelination from 1901 and recent in vivo imaging maps of A beta deposits in humans. The data show that in AD, radiolabeled ligands detect A beta deposition in a distribution that matches the map of late-myelinating regions. Furthermore, the strikingly lower ability of this imaging ligand to bind A beta in animal models is consistent with the much lower levels of myelin and associated iron levels in rodents when compared with humans. The hypotheses derived from the "myelin model" are testable with current imaging methods and have important implications for therapeutic interventions that should be expanded to include novel targets such as oligodendrocytes, myelin, and brain iron.


Aging; Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid; Degeneration; Dementia; Iron; Medications; Myelin; Oligodendrocyte; PIB; Prevention; Treatment; White matter

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