Biology of A beta amyloid in Alzheimer's disease

Neurobiol Dis. 1997;4(5):313-28. doi: 10.1006/nbdi.1997.0147.


The genetic associations with the pathological features of AD are diverse: A rapidly growing number of mutations in presenilin 1 and 2 on chromosomes 14 and 1, respectively, are found in many early-onset FAD patients (Lendon et al., 1997). In addition, beta PP mutations are found in a small percentage of early-onset FAD kindreds. The apoE4 allele on chromosome 19 is associated with the presence of the most common form of AD, sporadic AD (Wisniewski & Frangione, 1992; Namba et al., 1991). However, it is clear that other proteins are also involved in the pathogenesis of AD, since some early-onset FAD kindreds do not have linkage to PS1, PS2, apoE, or beta PP, while at least 50% of late-onset AD is unrelated to apoE. Other proteins which have been implicated in the formation of senile plaques, but so far are not known to have any genetic linkage to AD, include proteoglycans (Snow et al., 1987), apoA1 (Wisniewski et al., 1995a), alpha 1-antichymotrypsin (Abraham et al., 1988), HB-GAM (Wisniewski et al., 1996a), complement components (McGeer & Rogers, 1992), acetylcholinesterase (Friede, 1965), and NAC (Ueda et al., 1993). Which of these proteins will be the most important for the etiology of the most common form of AD, late-onset sporadic AD, remains an open question. Three of the genes which are now known to be linked to AD, including PS1, beta PP, and apoE, have been established immunohistochemically and biochemically to be components of senile plaques (see Fig. 1). This raises at least two possibilities: either each of these proteins is part of one pathway with A beta-related amyloid formation as a final causative pathogenic event or amyloid deposition in AD is a reactive process related to dysfunction of a number of different CNS proteins. Whether or not amyloid formation is directly causative in the pathogenesis of AD, current data suggest that new therapeutic approaches which may inhibit the aggregation and/or the conformational change of sA beta to A beta fibrils (Soto et al., 1996) have the greatest likelihood to make a significant impact on controlling amyloid accumulation in AD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / chemistry*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides