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Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Jul;33(7):1484.e15-24. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.12.020. Epub 2012 Jan 26.

Hormetic effect of amyloid-β peptide in synaptic plasticity and memory.

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Department of Bio-Medical Sciences, Section of Physiology, University of Catania, Catania, Italy.


One of the hot topics in Alzheimer's disease research field is the "amyloid hypothesis" postulating that the increase and deposition of beta-amyloid peptides (Aβ) is the main pathogenetic factor. However, antiamyloid-based therapies have so far been a failure and, most importantly, growing evidences suggest that Aβ has important physiologic functions. Based on our previous findings demonstrating that low concentrations of Aβ enhanced both synaptic plasticity and memory, whereas high concentrations induced the well-known impairment of cognition, here we show that Aβ acts on hippocampal long-term potentiation and reference memory drawing biphasic dose-response curves. This phenomenon, characterized by low-dose stimulation and high-dose inhibition and represented by a U-shaped or inverted-U-shaped curve, resembles the characteristics of hormesis. The Aβ double role raises important issues on the use of Aβ level reducing agents in Alzheimer's disease.

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