Calcium hypothesis of Alzheimer's disease

Pflugers Arch. 2010 Feb;459(3):441-9. doi: 10.1007/s00424-009-0736-1. Epub 2009 Oct 1.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused by an increase in amyloid metabolism. The calcium hypothesis of AD explores how activation of the amyloidogenic pathway may function to remodel the neuronal Ca(2+) signaling pathways responsible for cognition. Hydrolysis of the beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP) yields two products that can influence Ca(2+) signaling. Firstly, the amyloids released to the outside form oligomers that enhance the entry of Ca(2+) that is pumped into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). An increase in the luminal level of Ca(2+) within the ER enhances the sensitivity of the ryanodine receptors (RYRs) to increase the amount of Ca(2+) being released from the internal stores. Secondly, the APP intracellular domain may alter the expression of key signaling components such as the RYR. It is proposed that this remodeling of Ca(2+) signaling will result in the learning and memory deficits that occur early during the onset of AD. In particular, the Ca(2+) signaling remodeling may erase newly acquired memories by enhancing the mechanism of long-term depression that depends on activation of the Ca(2+)-dependent protein phosphatase calcineurin. The alteration in Ca(2+) signaling will also contribute to the neurodegeneration that characterizes the later stages of dementia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease* / physiopathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Presenilins / genetics
  • Presenilins / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Presenilins
  • Calcium