Modulation of Aβ42 fibrillogenesis by glycosaminoglycan structure

Juan José Valle-Delgado, Mercedes Alfonso-Prieto, Natalia S. De Groot, Salvador Ventura, Josep Samitier, Carme Rovira, Xavier Fernàndez-Busquets

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60 Citations (Scopus)


The role of amyloid β (Aβ) peptide in the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease is linked to the presence of soluble Aβ species. Sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) promote Aβ fibrillogenesis and reduce the toxicity of the peptide in neuronal cell cultures, but a satisfactory rationale to explain these effects at the molecular level has not been provided yet. We have used circular dichroism, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy, protease digestion, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and molecular dynamics simulations to characterize the association of the 42-residue fragment Aβ42 with sulfated GAGs, hyaluronan, chitosan, and poly(vinyl sulfate) (PVS). Our results indicate that the formation of stable Aβ42 fibrils is promoted by polymeric GAGs with negative charges placed in-frame with the 4.8-Å separating Aβ42 monomers within protofibrillar β-sheets. Incubation of Aβ42 with excess sulfated GAGs and hyaluronan increased amyloid fibril content and resistance to proteolysis 2- to 5-fold, whereas in the presence of the cationic polysaccharide chitosan, Aβ42 fibrillar species were reduced by 25% and sensitivity to protease degradation increased ∼3-fold. Fibrils of intermediate stability were obtained in the presence of PVS, an anionic polymer with more tightly packed charges than GAGs. Important structural differences between Aβ42 fibrils induced by PVS and Aβ42 fibrils obtained in the presence of GAGs and hyaluronan were observed by AFM, whereas mainly precursor protofibrillar forms were detected after incubation with chitosan. Computed binding energies per peptide from -11.2 to -13.5 kcal/mol were calculated for GAGs and PVS, whereas a significantly lower value of -7.4 kcal/ mol was obtained for chitosan. Taken together, our data suggest a simple and straightforward mechanism to explain the role of GAGs as enhancers of the formation of insoluble Aβ42 fibrils trapping soluble toxic forms. © FASEB.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4250-4261
JournalFASEB Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid fibril structure
  • Fibrillogenesis enhancers and inhibitors
  • Polysaccharides


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