Role of oxidative stress in Alzheimer's disease

Biomed Rep. 2016 May;4(5):519-522. doi: 10.3892/br.2016.630. Epub 2016 Mar 15.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of disability in individuals aged >65 years worldwide. AD is characterized by the abnormal deposition of amyloid β (Aβ) peptide, and intracellular accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles of hyperphosphorylated τ protein and dementia. The neurotoxic oligomer Aβ peptide, which is the neuropathological diagnostic criterion of the disease, together with τ protein, are mediators of the neurodegeneration that is among the main causative factors. However, these phenomena are mainly initiated and enhanced by oxidative stress, a process referring to an imbalance between antioxidants and oxidants in favour of oxidants. This imbalance can occur as a result of increased free radicals or a decrease in antioxidant defense, free radicals being a species that contains one or more unpaired electrons in its outer shell. The major source of potent free radicals is the reduction of molecular oxygen in water, that initially yields the superoxide radical, which produces hydrogen peroxide by the addition of an electron. The reduction of hydrogen peroxide produces highly reactive hydroxyl radicals, termed reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can react with lipids, proteins, nucleic acids, and other molecules and may also alter their structures and functions. Thus, tissues and organs, particularly the brain, a vulnerable organ, are affected by ROS due to its composition. The brain is largely composed of easily oxidizable lipids while featuring a high oxygen consumption rate. The current review examined the role of oxidative stress in AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; free radical; neurodegeneration; oxidative stress; reactive oxygen species.