Toxic oligomer species of amyloid-β in Alzheimer's disease, a timing issue

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A decade following the paradigm-shifting concept that endogenous forms of soluble, non-fibrillar amyloid-β (Aβ) might constitute the major bioactive entity causing synaptic loss and cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease (AD), our understanding of these oligomeric species still remains conspicuously superficial. The current lack of direct evaluation tools for each endogenous Aβ oligomer hampers our ability to readily address crucial question such as: (i) where they form and accumulate?; (ii) when they first appear in human brains and body fluids?; (iii) what is the longitudinal expression of these putative toxins during the course of the disease?; (iv) and how do these soluble Aβ assemblies alter synaptic and neuronal function in the brain? Despite these limitations, indirect ex vivo measurement and isolation from biological specimens has been possible and have allowed parsing out intrinsic differences between putative endogenous Aβ oligomers. In this review, I integrated recent findings and extrapolated emerging hypotheses derived from these studies with the hope to provide a clarified view on the putative role of endogenous Aβ oligomers in AD, with a particular emphasis on the timing at which these soluble species might act in the aging and diseased brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14021
JournalSwiss Medical Weekly
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgement: We thank Dr. David Bennett and the participants of the Religious Orders Study. Funding / potential competing interests: S.E.L. is supported in part by startup funds from the University of Minnesota Foundation and by NIH grants R00AG031293 and R01NS033249. The authors have no conflicts of interests in relation to this manuscript.


  • Alzheimer
  • Amyloid-beta
  • Brain
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Oligomer
  • Transgenic


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