Do Amyloid Plaques Cause Alzheimer Disease?

A new study finds amyloid plaques accelerate the breakup of neurotransmitters, worsening neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer disease.

A new study conducted by Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev scientists found that amyloid plaques comprising the beta-amyloid protein can effectively catalyze neurotransmitter degradation.1

Amyloid plaques are a key indicator of Alzheimer disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, but it is still not certain if and how such plaques contribute to disease progression. Lead researchers Raz Jelinek, PhD, and doctoral student Elad Arad, in collaboration with Hanna Rapaport, PhD, and Avigail Baruch Leshem, offered an explanation: by breaking up vital neurotransmitters like dopamine and adrenaline, plaques “poison” the brain.

“This study demonstrates, for the first time for a naturally occurring amyloid, that fibrils comprising the 42-residue amyloid-β peptide (Aβ42) exhibit significant catalytic properties,” the researchers wrote.1

“Our findings open intriguing new avenues of research into the molecular factors in neurodegenerative diseases that could bring us closer to therapeutic treatments,” Jelinek, Vice President and Dean of Research & Development at BGU, said to the press.2

During the study, researchers observed catalytic activity directly caused by beta-amyloid fibrils, not by nonfibril, smaller protein like monomers or oligomers. As neurotransmitter degradation has been observed in brains of Alzheimer disease patients, this fibril-catalysis phenomenon discovered by Jelinek and colleagues may be physiologically significant.

Findings from the study were just published in Chem Catalysis, a Cell Press journal.

References

1. Arad E, Leshem AB, Rapaport H, Jelinek R. β-Amyloid fibrils catalyze neurotransmitter degradation. Chem Catalysis. 2021. Accessed August 3, 2021. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2667109321001366?via%3Dihub

2. TPS. Israeli scientists find possible key to understanding Alzheimer’s disease. World Israel News. August 3, 2021. https://worldisraelnews.com/israeli-scientists-find-possible-key-to-understanding-alzheimers-disease/