Mechanistic analyses of the suppression of amyloid β42 aggregation by apomorphine

Bioorg Med Chem. 2018 May 1;26(8):1538-1546. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2018.01.028. Epub 2018 Feb 2.


(R)-Apomorphine (1) has the potential to reduce the accumulation of amyloid β-protein (Aβ42), a causative agent of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Although the inhibition of Aβ42 aggregation by 1 is ascribable to the antioxidative effect of its phenol moiety, its inhibitory mechanism at the molecular level remains to be fully elucidated. LC-MS and UV analyses revealed that 1 is autoxidized during incubation to produce an unstable o-quinone form (2), which formed a Michael adduct with Lys 16 and 28 of Aβ42. A further autoxidized form of 1 (3) with o-quinone and phenanthrene moieties suppressed Aβ42 aggregation comparable to 1, whereas treating 1 with a reductant, tris(2-carboxyethyl)phosphine diminished its inhibitory activity. 1H-15N SOFAST-HMQC NMR studies suggested that 1 interacts with Arg5, His13,14, Gln15, and Lys16 of the Aβ42 monomer. These regions form intermolecular β-sheets in Aβ42 aggregates. Since 3 did not perturb the chemical shift of monomeric Aβ42, we performed aggregation experiments using 1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoro-2-propanol-treated Aβ42 to investigate whether 3 associates with Aβ42 oligomers. Compounds 1 and 3 delayed the onset of the oligomer-driven nucleation phase. Despite their cytotoxicity, they did not exacerbate Aβ42-mediated neurotoxicity in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. These results demonstrate that extension of the conjugated system in 1 by autoxidation can promote its planarity, which is required for intercalation into the β-sheet of Aβ42 nuclei, thereby suppressing further aggregation.

Keywords: (R)-Apomorphine; Aggregation; Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid β-protein; LC–MS; NMR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Apomorphine / chemical synthesis
  • Apomorphine / chemistry
  • Apomorphine / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Protein Aggregates / drug effects
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Protein Aggregates
  • Apomorphine