Researchers have known that the peptide amyloid beta plays a role in causing Alzheimer’s disease, but they are still working to determine how it becomes toxic.
Researchers have found that amyloid beta must change its internal structure into a long, flat structure called a beta sheet to be absorbed into the cell and become toxic. Results of the research were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The researchers found that the amyloid beta protein structure that was able penetrate the cell had a specific type of beta sheet in which its peptides stacked onto each other, similar to a layer cake.
Alzheimer’s researchers have had a long-standing debate on whether amyloid beta is toxic before entering the nerve cell or after entering the cell. Amyloid beta can interfere with the mitochondria, or the cell’s energy powerhouse. This causes the cell to stop breathing and leads to eventual cell death. Studies of patients with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease reveal the death of many nerve cells in the brain.
With this knowledge, the researchers can investigate what happens next to amyloid beta once inside the cell and how it interacts with the mitochondria.
Paper: “Amyloid-β(1–42) Aggregation Initiates Its Cellular Uptake and Cytotoxicity”
Reprinted from materials provided by Washington University in Saint Louis.