Copper/cholesterol interaction in Alzheimer's Disease

Ashley Bush, MD, PhD Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria

Project Details

In Alzheimer's disease a normal protein called beta-amyloid (Aβ) has been found to accumulate abnormally in the brain. AD has also been associated with abnormalities in cholesterol metabolism. Both links, however, are complex and the results of their specific effects have not yet been pin-pointed. Dr. Bush's team has discovered Aβ to be a copper binding protein. Copper (like cholesterol) is a normally abundant part of brain chemistry, but in AD Aβ abnormally utilizes copper's chemical energy to convert cholesterol into hydrogen peroxide. This is a damaging reaction that may be the cause of the toxicity of Aβ. Through a five part research analysis, Dr. Bush's studies will help illuminate the complex biochemistry of Aβ in its reactions with copper and cholesterol in the brain.