Cross-talk of membrane lipids and Alzheimer-related proteins

Mol Neurodegener. 2013 Oct 22:8:34. doi: 10.1186/1750-1326-8-34.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is neuropathologically characterized by the combined occurrence of extracellular β-amyloid plaques and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. While plaques contain aggregated forms of the amyloid β-peptide (Aβ), tangles are formed by fibrillar forms of the microtubule associated protein tau. All mutations identified so far to cause familial forms of early onset AD (FAD) are localized close to or within the Aβ domain of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) or in the presenilin proteins that are essential components of a protease complex involved in the generation of Aβ. Mutations in the tau gene are not associated with FAD, but can cause other forms of dementia. The genetics of FAD together with biochemical and cell biological data, led to the formulation of the amyloid hypothesis, stating that accumulation and aggregation of Aβ is the primary event in the pathogenesis of AD, while tau might mediate its toxicity and neurodegeneration.The generation of Aβ involves sequential proteolytic cleavages of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by enzymes called β-and γ-secretases. Notably, APP itself as well as the secretases are integral membrane proteins. Thus, it is very likely that membrane lipids are involved in the regulation of subcellular transport, activity, and metabolism of AD related proteins.Indeed, several studies indicate that membrane lipids, including cholesterol and sphingolipids (SLs) affect Aβ generation and aggregation. Interestingly, APP and other AD associated proteins, including β-and γ-secretases can, in turn, influence lipid metabolic pathways. Here, we review the close connection of cellular lipid metabolism and AD associated proteins and discuss potential mechanisms that could contribute to initiation and progression of AD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Receptor Cross-Talk / physiology*
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membrane Proteins
  • tau Proteins
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases