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Brain Res. 1997 Jan 2;744(1):7-14.

Aggregates of a beta-amyloid peptide are required to induce calcium currents in neuron-like human teratocarcinoma cells: relation to Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 01239, USA.


We report that human hNT cells display neuron-like calcium channel activation. Patch-clamp experiments show that exposure of hNT cells to the Alzheimer-related amyloid peptide beta AP(25-35) induces large and irreversible inward calcium currents at -80 mV in whole cell mode, with a linear current-voltage relationship. This behavior is suggestive of ionophore formation. An analogous peptide with scrambled sequence has no effect. These ionophore effects by the beta AP(25-35) peptide, the first report in a human cell-line, are very rapid effects. The currents are large and stable, and are blocked by Al3+ but not by Cd2+. Filtration removes a peptide aggregate from the amyloid peptide beta AP(25-35) solution and thereby abolishes the inward current. The residual soluble peptide has no effect. These data suggest that the initial step of the neurotoxic effect of beta AP(25-35) may be due to the insertion of the aggregated peptide into the cellular membrane as a Ca2(+)-carrying ionophore. The relevance of calcium-mediated cell death, especially in Alzheimer's disease, is discussed.

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