Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Michael R. Nichols, PhD


Alexei Demchenko

Chung Wong

Bethany Zolman


Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common form of neurodegenerative disease characterized by the generation and deposition of amyloid beta plaques and the formation of neurofibrillary tangles. A wealth of data now demonstrate that inflammation is a prominent feature in AD pathology and a potential therapeutic target for the treatment and prevention of the disease. The emergence of evidence linking amyloid beta protein (Aβ), the primary component of senile plaques, to inflammation has led to new insights into understanding AD pathology. Aβ, a protein fragment resulting from cleavage of human amyloid precursor protein (APP), primarily exists in two forms: a slower-aggregating 40-amino acid long peptide (Aβ(1-40)), and a faster-aggregating 42-residue peptide Aβ(1-42). This investigation focused on elucidating the mechanism by which Aβ provokes an inflammatory response in AD. For this study, we utilized THP-1 human monocytes/macrophages as an inflammatory model system due to their sensitivity to Aβ. We hypothesized that fibrillar Aβ(1-42) may utilize Toll-like receptors (TLRs), a family of transmembrane receptors that mediate recognition of certain conserved structural motifs in pathogens, for production of proinflammatory products and activation of the innate immune response. Biophysical characterization of the bioactive species of Aβ(1-42) revealed that a soluble yet fibrillar species of Aβ(1-42) invokes tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) production in THP-1 monocytes/macrophages. Moreover, using a TLR antibody neutralization assay, whereby receptor blockade inhibits cell responsiveness to TLR ligands, we showed that both TLR2 and TLR4 were highly involved in Aβ(1-42)-induced TNFα production. The role of TLR2 in Aβ-induced innate immune response was further substantiated by the production of proinflammatory interleukin-8 (IL-8) in transfected HEK293 cells, a mammalian cell line that do not express TLR2, after stimulation with Aβ(1-42). Furthermore, our results suggest the possible involvement of TLR2/TLR1 or TLR2/TLR6 for the Aβ-induced activation of TLR downstream signaling. Taken together, our findings provided strong correlation between Aβ and innate immune response activation via TLR2 and TLR4. The identification of TLRs that recognize Aβ has opened new venues for understanding the mechanism of Aβ-induced inflammatory response and may thus be a new therapeutic target for AD.

OCLC Number


Included in

Chemistry Commons