2011 CCNP Heinz Lehman Award paper: Searching for an endogenous anti-Alzheimer molecule identifying small molecules in the brain that slow Alzheimer disease progression by inhibition of β-amyloid aggregation

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BackgroundAlzheimer disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that progresses with marked interindividual clinical variability. We postulate the existence of endogenous molecules within the human brain exerting an antiaggregant activity that will prevent/slow Alzheimer disease progression.MethodsWe performed in silico studies to determine if the small endogenous molecules L-phosphoserine (L-PS) and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid (3-HAA) could bind to the target region of β-amyloid responsible for protein misfolding. In vitro assays measured the antiaggregation effect of these molecules at varying concentrations.ResultsIn silico studies demonstrated that L-PS and 3-HAA, both endogenous brain molecules, were capable of binding to the histidine13–histidine–glutamine–lysine16 (HHQK) region of β-amyloid involved in misfolding: these interactions were energetically favoured. The in vitro assays showed that both L-PS and 3-HAA were capable of inhibiting β-amyloid aggregation in a dose-dependent manner, with 3-HAA being more potent than L-PS.LimitationsStudies were performed in silico and in vitro but not in vivo.ConclusionWe successfully identified 2 endogenous brain molecules, L-PS and 3-HAA, that were capable of binding to the region of β-amyloid that leads to protein misfolding and neurotoxicity. Both L-PS and 3-HAA were able to inhibit β-amyloid aggregation in varying concentrations; levels of these compounds in the brain may impact their effectiveness in slowing/preventing β-amyloid aggregation.

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