Amyloid beta-peptide (1-42)-induced oxidative stress and neurotoxicity: implications for neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease brain. A review

Free Radic Res. 2002 Dec;36(12):1307-13. doi: 10.1080/1071576021000049890.


Oxidative stress, manifested by protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation, DNA oxidation and 3-nitrotyrosine formation, among other indices, is observed in Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain. Amyloid beta-peptide (1-42) [Abeta(1-42)] may be central to the pathogenesis of AD. Our laboratory and others have implicated Abeta(1-42)-induced free radical oxidative stress in the neurodegeneration observed in AD brain. This paper reviews some of these studies from our laboratory. Recently, we showed both in-vitro and in-vivo that methionine residue 35 (Met-35) of Abeta(1-42) was critical to its oxidative stress and neurotoxic properties. Because the C-terminal region of Abeta(1-42) is helical, and invoking the i + 4 rule of helices, we hypothesized that the carboxyl oxygen of lle-31, known to be within a van der Waals distance of the S atom of Met-35, would interact with the latter. This interaction could alter the susceptibility for oxidation of Met-35, i.e. free radical formation. Consistent with this hypothesis, substitution of lle-31 by the helix-breaking amino acid, proline, completely abrogated the oxidative stress and neurotoxic properties of Abeta(1-42). Removal of the Met-35 residue from the lipid bilayer by substitution of the negatively charged Asp for Gly-37 abrogated oxidative stress and neurotoxic properties of Abeta(1-42). The free radical scavenger vitamin E prevented A(beta (1-42)-induced ROS formation, protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation, and neurotoxicity in hippocampal neurons, consistent with our model for Abeta-associated free radical oxidative stress induced neurodegeneration in AD. ApoE, allele 4, is a risk factor for AD. Synaptosomes from apoE knock-out mice are more vulnerable to Abeta-induced oxidative stress (protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation, and ROS generation) than are those from wild-type mice. We also studied synaptosomes from allele-specific human apoE knock-in mice. Brain membranes from human apoE4 mice have greater vulnerability to Abeta(1-42)-induced oxidative stress than brain membranes from apoE2 or E3, assessed by the same indices, consistent with the notion of a coupling of the oxidative environment in AD brain and increased risk of developing this disorder. Using immunoprecipitation of proteins from AD and control brain obtained no longer than 4h PMI, selective oxidized proteins were identified in the AD brain. Creatine kinase (CK) and beta-actin have increased carbonyl groups, an index of protein oxidation, and Glt-1, the principal glutamate transporter, has increased binding of the lipid peroxidation product, 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE). Abeta inhibits CK and causes lipid peroxidation, leading to HNE formation. Implications of these findings relate to decreased energy utilization, altered assembly of cytoskeletal proteins, and increased excitotoxicity to neurons by glutamate, all reported for AD. Other oxidatively modified proteins have been identified in AD brain by proteomics analysis, and these oxidatively-modified proteins may be related to increased excitotoxicity (glutamine synthetase), aberrant proteasomal degradation of damaged or aggregated proteins (ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase L-1), altered energy production (alpha-enolase), and diminished growth cone elongation and directionality (dihydropyrimindase-related protein 2). Taken together, these studies outlined above suggest that Met-35 is key to the oxidative stress and neurotoxic properties of Abeta(1-42) and may help explain the apoE allele dependence on risk for AD, some of the functional and structural alterations in AD brain, and strongly support a causative role of Abeta(1-42)-induced oxidative stress and neurodegeneration in AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Humans
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Methionine / chemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology*
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Reactive Oxygen Species


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Peptides
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • amyloid beta-protein (1-42)
  • Methionine