The toxic Aβ oligomer and Alzheimer's disease: an emperor in need of clothes

Nat Neurosci. 2012 Jan 29;15(3):349-57. doi: 10.1038/nn.3028.


The 'toxic Aβ oligomer' hypothesis has attracted considerable attention among Alzheimer's disease researchers as a way of resolving the lack of correlation between deposited amyloid-β (Aβ) in amyloid plaques-in terms of both amount and location-and cognitive impairment or neurodegeneration. However, the lack of a common, agreed-upon experimental description of the toxic Aβ oligomer makes interpretation and direct comparison of data between different research groups impossible. Here we critically review the evidence supporting toxic Aβ oligomers as drivers of neurodegeneration and make some suggestions that might facilitate progress in this complex field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / complications*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / chemistry
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / toxicity*
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor