Calcium dysregulation and membrane disruption as a ubiquitous neurotoxic mechanism of soluble amyloid oligomers

Angelo Demuro, Erene Mina, Rakez Kayed, Saskia C. Milton, Ian Parker, Charles G. Glabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

886 Scopus citations


Increasing evidence suggests that amyloid pepticles associated with a variety of degenerative diseases induce neurotoxicity in their intermediate oligomeric state, rather than as monomers or fibrils. To test this hypothesis and investigate the possible involvement of Ca2+ signaling disruptions in amyloid-induced cytotoxicity, we made homogeneous preparations of disease-related amyloids (Aβ, prion, islet amyloid polypeptide, polyglutamine, and lysozyme) in various aggregation states and tested their actions on fluo-3-loaded SH-SY5Y cells. Application of oligomeric forms of all amyloids tested (0.6-6 μg ml-1) rapidly (∼5s) elevated intracellular Ca2+, whereas equivalent amounts of monomers and fibrils did not. Ca2+ signals evoked by Aβ42 oligomers persisted after depletion of intracellular Ca2+ stores, and small signals remained in Ca2+-free medium, indicating contributions from both extracellular and intracellular Ca2+ sources. The increased membrane permeability to Ca2+ cannot be attributed to activation of endogenous Ca2+ channels, because responses were unaffected by the potent Ca2+-channel blocker cobalt (20 μm). Instead, observations that Aβ42 and other oligomers caused rapid cellular leakage of anionic fluorescent dyes point to a generalized increase in membrane permeability. The resulting unregulated flux of ions and molecules may provide a common mechanism for oligomer-mediated toxicity in many amyloidogenic diseases, with dysregulation of Ca2+ ions playing a crucial role because of their strong trans-membrane concentration gradient and involvement in cell dysfunction and death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17294-17300
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 29 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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