Amino-terminally truncated Abeta peptide species are the main component of cotton wool plaques

Biochemistry. 2005 Aug 16;44(32):10810-21. doi: 10.1021/bi0508237.


Cotton wool plaques (CWPs) are round lesions that lack a central amyloid core. CWPs have been observed in individuals affected by early-onset familial Alzheimer disease (FAD) associated with mutations in the presenilin 1 (PSEN1) gene. Here we present the characterization of the amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptides deposited in the brain of an individual affected by FAD carrying the novel missense (V261I) mutation in the PSEN1 gene. Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry was used to determine the Abeta peptide species present in the cerebral and cerebellar cortices, in leptomeningeal vessels, and in CWPs isolated by laser microdissection (LMD). Our results indicate that amino-terminally truncated Abeta peptide species ending at residues 42 and 43 are the main Abeta peptides deposited in brain parenchyma and LMD-CWPs in association with the PSEN1 V261I mutation. Full-length Abeta1-42 and Abeta1-43 peptide species were underrepresented. CWPs were not found to be associated with vessels and did not contain Abeta1-40 peptides, the main component of the vascular deposits. Although Abeta deposits were present mostly in the form of CWPs in the cerebral cortex and as diffuse deposits in the cerebellar cortex, a similar array of amino-terminally truncated Abeta peptide species was seen in both cases. The biochemical data support the concept that parenchymal and vascular amyloid deposits are associated with a different array of Abeta peptide species. The generation and parenchymal deposition of highly insoluble amino-terminally truncated Abeta peptides may play an important role in the pathogenesis of AD and must be taken into consideration in developing new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / analysis*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / ultrastructure
  • Autopsy
  • Blood Vessels / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / chemistry
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Family Health
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Peptide Fragments / analysis
  • Presenilin-1
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Membrane Proteins
  • PSEN1 protein, human
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Presenilin-1