N. Durany, Gerald Münch, Tanja Michel, Peter Riederer
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive dementia affecting a large proportion of the aging population. The histopathological changes in AD include neuronal cell death and formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) NFTs are composed of hyperphosphorylated tau protein, and senile plaques contain aggregates of the β-peptide. There is also evidence that brain tissue in patients with AD is exposed to oxidative stress during the course of the disease. Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), which are formed by a non-enzymatic reaction of glucose with long-lived protein deposits, are potentially toxic to the cell, are present in brain plaques in AD, and its extracellular accumulation in AD may be caused by an accelerated oxidation of glycated proteins. The microtubuli-associated protein tau is also subject to intracellular AGE formation. AGEs participate in neuronal death causing direct (chemical) radical production: Glycated proteins produce nearly 50-fold more radicals than non-glycated proteins, and indirect (cellular) radical production: Interaction of AGEs with cells increases oxidative stress. During aging cellular defence mechanisms weaken and the damages to cell constituents accumulate leading to loss of function and finally cell death. The development of drugs for the treatment of AD remains at a very unsatisfying state. However, pharmacological approaches which break the vicious cycles of oxidative stress and neurodegeneration offer new opportunities for the treatment of AD. Theses approaches include AGE-inhibitors, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory substances, which prevent radical production. AGE inhibitors might be able to stop formation of AGE-modified β-amyloid deposits, antioxidants are likely to scavenge intracellular and extracellular superoxide radicals and hydrogen peroxide before these radicals damage cell constituents or activate microglia, and anti-inflammatory drugs attenuating microglial radical and cytokine production.