The amyloid beta protein (Abeta) deposited in the Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain is heterogeneous at both its amino and carboxyl termini. Recent studies of the genetic forms of AD indicate that the aggregation and deposition of Abeta42 may be a common initiating event in all forms of AD. Here, we analyzed the amino termini of the Abeta species deposited in the AD brain, focusing specifically on species with amino-terminal pyroglutamate at position 3 (Abeta3(pE)). Immunocytochemical analysis of AD brains with an antibody specific for Abeta3(pE) confirmed that these species deposit in blood vessels and senile plaques. Using specific sandwich ELISAs, we determined the amounts of Abeta3(pE)-40 and Abeta3(pE)-42(43) in AD brain compared with other forms. This analysis showed that Abeta3(pE)-40 is closely correlated with the extent of Abeta deposition in blood vessels, whereas Abeta3(pE)-42(43) is not. In addition, Abeta3(pE)-42(43) is an important component of the Abeta deposited in senile plaques of the AD brain, constituting approximately 25% of the total Abeta42(43). In vitro comparison of Abeta1-42 and Abeta3(pE)-42 showed that Abeta3(pE)-42 is highly prone to oligomerization. These findings suggest that Abeta3(pE)-42 may be particularly important in AD pathogenesis.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.