Protection against β-amyloid neurotoxicity by a non-toxic endogenous N-terminal β-amyloid fragment and its active hexapeptide core sequence

Kelly H. Forest, Naghum Alfulaij, Komal Arora, Ruth Taketa, Tessi Sherrin, Cedomir Todorovic, James L.M. Lawrence, Gene T. Yoshikawa, Ho Leung Ng, Victor J. Hruby, Robert A. Nichols

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


High levels (μM) of beta amyloid (Aβ) oligomers are known to trigger neurotoxic effects, leading to synaptic impairment, behavioral deficits, and apoptotic cell death. The hydrophobic C-terminal domain of Aβ, together with sequences critical for oligomer formation, is essential for this neurotoxicity. However, Aβ at low levels (pM-nM) has been shown to function as a positive neuromodulator and this activity resides in the hydrophilic N-terminal domain of Aβ. An N-terminal Aβ fragment (1–15/16), found in cerebrospinal fluid, was also shown to be a highly active neuromodulator and to reverse Aβ-induced impairments of long-term potentiation. Here, we show the impact of this N-terminal Aβ fragment and a shorter hexapeptide core sequence in the Aβ fragment (Aβcore: 10–15) to protect or reverse Aβ-induced neuronal toxicity, fear memory deficits and apoptotic death. The neuroprotective effects of the N-terminal Aβ fragment and Aβcore on Aβ-induced changes in mitochondrial function, oxidative stress, and apoptotic neuronal death were demonstrated via mitochondrial membrane potential, live reactive oxygen species, DNA fragmentation and cell survival assays using a model neuroblastoma cell line (differentiated NG108-15) and mouse hippocampal neuron cultures. The protective action of the N-terminal Aβ fragment and Aβcore against spatial memory processing deficits in amyloid precursor protein/PSEN1 (5XFAD) mice was demonstrated in contextual fear conditioning. Stabilized derivatives of the N-terminal Aβcore were also shown to be fully protective against Aβ-triggered oxidative stress. Together, these findings indicate an endogenous neuroprotective role for the N-terminal Aβ fragment, while active stabilized N-terminal Aβcore derivatives offer the potential for therapeutic application. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-217
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • apoptosis
  • beta amyloid peptides
  • fear memory
  • neuroprotection
  • neurotoxicity
  • oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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