, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 523-531
Date: 03 May 2006

Cholesterol inhibits the insertion of the Alzheimer’s peptide Aβ(25–35) in lipid bilayers

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The physiological relationship between brain cholesterol content and the action of amyloid β (Aβ) peptide in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a highly controversially discussed topic. Evidences for modulations of the Aβ/membrane interaction induced by plasma membrane cholesterol have already been observed. We have recently reported that Aβ(25–35) is capable of inserting in lipid membranes and perturbing their structure. Applying neutron diffraction and selective deuteration, we now demonstrate that cholesterol alters, at the molecular level, the capability of Aβ(25–35) to penetrate into the lipid bilayers; in particular, a molar weight content of 20% of cholesterol hinders the intercalation of monomeric Aβ(25–35) completely. At very low cholesterol content (about 1% molar weight) the location of the C-terminal part of Aβ(25–35) has been unequivocally established in the hydrocarbon region of the membrane, in agreement with our previous results on pure phospholipids membrane. These results link a structural property to a physiological and functional behavior and point to a therapeutical approach to prevent the AD by modulation of membrane properties.