Ryan TM, Roberts BR, McColl G, Hare DJ, Doble PA, Li QX, Lind M, Roberts AM, Mertens HD, Kirby N, Pham CL, Hinds MG, Adlard PA, Barnham KJ, Curtain CC, Masters CL
The extracellular accumulation of amyloid β (Aβ) peptides is characteristic of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, formation of diffusible, oligomeric forms of Aβ, both on and off pathways to amyloid fibrils, is thought to include neurotoxic species responsible for synaptic loss and neurodegeneration, rather than polymeric amyloid aggregates. The 8-hydroxyquinolines (8-HQ) clioquinol (CQ) and PBT2 were developed for their ability to inhibit metal-mediated generation of reactive oxygen species from Aβ:Cu complexes and have both undergone preclinical and Phase II clinical development for the treatment of AD. Their respective modes of action are not fully understood and may include both inhibition of Aβ fibrillar polymerization and direct depolymerization of existing Aβ fibrils. In the present study, we find that CQ and PBT2 can interact directly with Aβ and affect its propensity to aggregate. Using a combination of biophysical techniques, we demonstrate that, in the presence of these 8-HQs and in the absence of metal ions, Aβ associates with two 8-HQ molecules and forms a dimer. Furthermore, 8-HQ bind Aβ with an affinity of 1-10 μm and suppress the formation of large (>30 kDa) oligomers. The stabilized low molecular weight species are nontoxic. Treatment with 8-HQs also reduces the levels of in vivo soluble oligomers in a Caenorhabditis elegans model of Aβ toxicity. We propose that 8-HQs possess an additional mechanism of action that neutralizes neurotoxic Aβ oligomer formation through stabilization of small (dimeric) nontoxic Aβ conformers.