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Glycobiology. 2010 May;20(5):533-41. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwp205. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

Heparan sulfate mediates amyloid-beta internalization and cytotoxicity.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Uppsala, The Biomedical Center, Box 582, SE-751 23, Uppsala, Sweden.


Heparan sulfate (HS) has been found associated with amyloid deposits, including the toxic amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptide aggregates in cerebral vasculature and neuronal tissues in patients with Alzheimer's disease. However, the pathophysiological significance of the HS-Abeta interaction has remained unclear. In the present study, we applied cell models to gain insight into the roles of HS in relation to Abeta toxicity. Wild-type Chinese hamster ovary (CHO-WT) cells showed loss of viability following exposure to Abeta40, whereas the HS-deficient cell line, pgsD-677, was essentially resistant. Immunocytochemical analysis showed Abeta internalization by CHO-WT, but not pgsD-677 cells. Abeta40 toxicity was also attenuated in human embryonic kidney cells overexpressing heparanase. Finally, addition of heparin to human umbilical vein endothelial cells prevented internalization of added Abeta40 and protected against Abeta toxicity. Taken together, these findings suggest that cell-surface HS mediates Abeta internalization and toxicity.

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