The protective effect of crocin on the amyloid fibril formation of Aβ42 peptide in vitro

Cell Mol Biol Lett. 2013 Sep;18(3):328-39. doi: 10.2478/s11658-013-0092-1. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Aβ is the main constituent of the amyloid plaque found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. There are two common isoforms of Aβ: the more common form, Aβ40, and the less common but more amyloidogenic form, Aβ42. Crocin is a carotenoid from the stigma of the saffron flower and it has many medicinal properties, including antioxidant effects. In this study, we examined the potential of crocin as a drug candidate against Aβ42 amyloid formation. The thioflavin T-binding assay and electron microscopy were used to examine the effects of crocin on the extension and disruption of Aβ42 amyloids. To further investigate the relationship between crocin and Aβ42 structure, we analyzed peptide conformation using the ANS-binding assay and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy. An increase in the thioflavin T fluorescence intensity upon incubation revealed amyloid formation in Aβ42. It was found that crocin has the ability to prevent amyloid formation by decreasing the fluorescence intensity. Electron microscopy data also indicated that crocin decreased the amyloid fibril content of Aβ. The ANS-binding assay showed that crocin decreased the hydrophobic area in incubated Aβ42. CD spectroscopy results also showed that the peptide undergoes a structural change to α-helical and β-turn. Our study shows that the anti-amyloidogenic effect of crocin may be exerted not only by the inhibition of Aβ amyloid formation but also by the disruption of amyloid aggregates. Therefore, crocin could be essential in the search for therapies inhibiting aggregation or disrupting aggregation.

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / chemistry*
  • Amyloid / metabolism
  • Amyloid / ultrastructure
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / chemistry*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / ultrastructure
  • Anilino Naphthalenesulfonates / chemistry
  • Anilino Naphthalenesulfonates / metabolism
  • Benzothiazoles
  • Carotenoids / chemistry*
  • Carotenoids / metabolism
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry*
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Peptide Fragments / ultrastructure
  • Protein Binding
  • Thiazoles / chemistry
  • Thiazoles / metabolism


  • Amyloid
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Anilino Naphthalenesulfonates
  • Benzothiazoles
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Thiazoles
  • thioflavin T
  • Carotenoids
  • 1-anilino-8-naphthalenesulfonate
  • crocin