In Alzheimer's disease (AD), insoluble and fibrillary amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide accumulates in plaques. However, soluble Aβ oligomers are most potent in creating synaptic dysfunction and loss. Therefore, receptors for Aβ oligomers are hypothesized to be the first step in a neuronal cascade leading to dementia. A number of cell-surface proteins have been described as Aβ binding proteins, and one or more are likely to mediate Aβ oligomer toxicity in AD. Cellular prion protein (PrPC) is a high-affinity Aβ oligomer binding site, and a range of data delineates a signaling pathway leading from Aβ complexation with PrPC to neuronal impairment. Further study of Aβ binding proteins will define the molecular basis of this crucial step in AD pathogenesis.
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