Accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides in the brain is one of the central pathogenic events in Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, why and how Aβ aggregates within the brain of AD patients remains elusive. Previously, we demonstrated hemoglobin (Hb) binds to Aβ and co-localizes with the plaque and vascular amyloid deposits in post-mortem AD brains. In this study, we further characterize the interactions between Hb and Aβ in vitro and in vivo and report the following observations: 1) the binding of Hb to Aβ required iron-containing heme; 2) other heme-containing proteins, such as myoglobin and cytochrome C, also bound to Aβ; 3) hemin-induced cytotoxicity was reduced in neuroblastoma cells by low levels of Aβ; 4) Hb was detected in neurons and glial cells of post-mortem AD brains and was up-regulated in aging and APP/PS1 transgenic mice; 5) microinjection of human Hb into the dorsal hippocampi of the APP/PS1 transgenic mice induced the formation of an envelope-like structure composed of Aβ surrounding the Hb droplets. Our results reveal an enhanced endogenous expression of Hb in aging brain cells, probably serving as a compensatory mechanism against hypoxia. In addition, Aβ binds to Hb and other hemoproteins via the iron-containing heme moiety, thereby reducing Hb/heme/iron-induced cytotoxicity. As some of the brain Hb could be derived from the peripheral circulation due to a compromised blood-brain barrier frequently observed in aged and AD brains, our work also suggests the genesis of some plaques may be a consequence of sustained amyloid accretion at sites of vascular injury.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)