Semax, a Synthetic Regulatory Peptide, Affects Copper-Induced Abeta Aggregation and Amyloid Formation in Artificial Membrane Models

ACS Chem Neurosci. 2022 Feb 16;13(4):486-496. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.1c00707. Epub 2022 Jan 26.


Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is characterized by the aggregation of amyloid beta protein (Aβ). The aggregation and toxicity of Aβ are strongly modulated by metal ions and phospholipidic membranes. In particular, Cu2+ ions play a pivotal role in modulating Aβ aggregation. Although in the last decades several natural or synthetic compounds were evaluated as candidate drugs, to date, no treatments are available for the pathology. Multifunctional compounds able to both inhibit fibrillogenesis, and in particular the formation of oligomeric species, and prevent the formation of the Aβ:Cu2+ complex are of particular interest. Here we tested the anti-aggregating properties of a heptapeptide, Semax, an ACTH-like peptide, which is known to form a stable complex with Cu2+ ions and has been proven to have neuroprotective and nootropic effects. We demonstrated through a combination of spectrofluorometric, calorimetric, and MTT assays that Semax not only is able to prevent the formation of Aβ:Cu2+ complexes but also has anti-aggregating and protective properties especially in the presence of Cu2+. The results suggest that Semax inhibits fiber formation by interfering with the fibrillogenesis of Aβ:Cu2+ complexes.

Keywords: Alzheimer; aggregation; amyloid β; copper; oligomers; peptides.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / analogs & derivatives
  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides* / metabolism
  • Copper / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Copper
  • ACTH (4-7), Pro-Gly-Pro-
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone