The Role of Trace Metals in Alzheimer’s Disease

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Chiara A. De Benedictis
Antonietta Vilella
Andreas M. Grabrucker


The extracellular aggregation of insoluble protein deposits of amyloid-β (Aβ) into plaques and the hyperphosphorylation of the intracellular protein tau leading to neurofibrillary tangles are the main pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Both Aβ and tau are metal-binding proteins. Essential trace metals such as zinc, copper, and iron play important roles in healthy brain function but altered homeostasis and distribution have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases and aging. In addition, the presence of non-essential trace metals such as aluminum has been associated with AD. Trace metals and abnormal metal metabolism can influence protein aggregation, synaptic signaling pathways, mitochondrial function, oxidative stress levels, and inflammation, ultimately resulting in synapse dysfunction and neuronal loss in the AD brain. Herein we provide an overview of metals and metal-binding proteins and their pathophysiological role in AD.


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Chapter 6