The A beta peptide of Alzheimer’s disease directly produces hydrogen peroxide through metal ion reduction.

Oxidative stress markers characterize the neuropathology both of Alzheimer’s disease and of amyloid-bearing transgenic mice. The neurotoxicity of amyloid A beta peptides has been linked to peroxide generation in cell cultures by an unknown mechanism. We now show that human A beta directly produces hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) by a mechanism that involves the reduction of metal ions, Fe(III) or Cu(II), setting up conditions for Fenton-type chemistry.

Spectrophotometric experiments establish that the A beta peptide reduces Fe(III) and Cu(II) to Fe(II) and Cu(I), respectively. Spectrochemical techniques are used to show that molecular oxygen is then trapped by A beta and reduced to H2O2 in a reaction that is driven by substoichiometric amounts of Fe(II) or Cu(I). In the presence of Cu(II) or Fe(III), A beta produces a positive thiobarbituric-reactive substance (TBARS) assay, compatible with the generation of the hydroxyl radical (OH.). The amounts of both reduced metal and TBARS reactivity are greatest when generated by A beta 1-42 >> A beta 1-40 > rat A beta 1-40, a chemical relationship that correlates with the participation of the native peptides in amyloid pathology.

These findings indicate that the accumulation of A beta could be a direct source of oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: Biochemistry 1999 Jun 15;38(24):7609-16

PMID: 10386999, UI: 99316162

(Laboratory for Oxidation Biology, Genetics and Aging Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown 02129, USA. )

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