A slowly formed transient conformer of Abeta(1-40) is toxic to inward channels of dissociated hippocampal and cortical neurons of rats

Xiao-Dong Sun, Zun-Li Mo, Bruce M Taylor, Dennis E Epps
Neurobiology of Disease 2003, 14 (3): 567-78
The mechanism by which amyloid peptide (Abeta(1-40)) produces effects on neurotransmission is currently unresolved. In initial experiments, using the patch-clamp technique, we found that 11.5 microM of preaggregated Abeta(1-40) altered the hippocampal neuron resting membrane potential and inhibited action potential firing. To identify the toxic species, the effects of Abeta(1-40) on sodium (I(Na)), calcium (I(Ca)), and potassium (I(K)) currents in hippocampal neurons were examined as a function of peptide aggregation state in a specially designed miniature recording chamber. Aggregation reactions were induced by constant shaking, starting with 50 microM monomeric peptide. At 10- to 30-min intervals, the ionic currents were examined on a single neuron suspended in control saline and then in a 100-microl sample of the aggregating peptide. We found that samples of the peptide taken 60-120 min into the aggregation process contained species that exhibited maximal inhibitory effects over a broad potential range in the rank ordering of I(Na) > I(Ca). I(K) was inhibited only slightly at depolarized potentials. Inhibition of APF through blockade of these channels would inhibit normal neuronal activity and directly contribute to cognitive dysfunction. In previous studies on SH-EP cells, we showed that neither monomeric nor fibrillar peptide had significant effect on cell viability except during exposure to the 60-120 minute aggregation product when cell death was recorded. Our kinetic model demonstrated that the toxic species was a slowly formed transient conformer (activated monomer), which was the only aggregating species that passed through a maximum concentration during aggregation. This species amounted to only a small fraction of the total amount of aggregating peptide. We conclude that, for both the native neurons in the present study as well as SH-EP1 cells, the activated monomeric conformer of the peptide is the toxic species.

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