The many faces of amyloid beta in Alzheimer's disease

Curr Mol Med. 2008 Sep;8(6):580-4. doi: 10.2174/156652408785747951.


The 'amyloid cascade hypothesis' links amyloid beta peptide (Abeta) with the pathological process of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and it still awaits universal acceptance. Amyloid precursor protein (APP), through the actions of the gamma-secretase complex, eventually becomes a different Abetaspecies. The various Abeta species have proven to be difficult to investigate under physiological conditions, and the species of Abeta responsible for neurotoxicity has yet to be unequivocally identified. The two important Abeta peptides involved are Abeta(1-40) and Abeta(1-42), and each has been ascribed both toxic and beneficial attributes. The ratio between the two species can be important in AD etiology. Additionally, shorter variants of Abeta peptides such as Abeta(1-8), Abeta(9-16) and Abeta(16) have also been shown to be potential participants in AD pathology. Interestingly, a new 56-kDa Abeta peptide (Abeta*56) disrupts memory when injected into the brains of young rats. Transgenic mice models are complicated by the interplay between various human Abeta types and the mouse Abeta types in the mouse brains. However, the accumulation of Abeta(1-42) in the brains of transgenic C. elegans worms and Drosophila is indeed detrimental. A less investigated aspect of AD is epigenetics, but in time the investigation of the role of epigenetics in AD may add to our understanding of the development of AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Humans
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Plaque, Amyloid / metabolism
  • Plaque, Amyloid / pathology
  • Presenilin-1 / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Presenilin-1