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Neurochem Int. 1985;7(2):369-72.

"Autocannibalism" of choline-containing membrane phospholipids in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease-A hypothesis.

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Laboratory of Neural and Endocrine Regulation, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, U.S.A.


The selective vulnerability of certain cholinergic neurons in Alzheimer's disease could reflect a unique response of these neurons to a neurotoxic factor. Alternatively the etiologic factor causing the disease could affect the brain generally, and the selective death of the cholinergic neurons could occur because they have a biochemical property that makes them least able to withstand this factor. One such property might be their tendency to utilize choline-phospholipids both as a membrane constituent and as a source of free choline for acetylcholine synthesis: perhaps when choline levels in the brain's extracellular fluid are too low to sustain acetylcholine release, these neurons break down their choline-phospholipids more rapidly than they can synthesize them, thus changing membrane structure and, ultimately, neuronal viability.


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