Silvia Bolognin and Paolo Zatta CNR-Institute for Biomedical Technologies, Padua “Metalloproteins” Unit, Department of Biology, University of Padua, Viale G. Colombo 3-35121, Padua, Italy
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly and with the increase of life expectancy in the developing countries it is becoming a problem with a relevant health and social impact. The etiology of the disease is still elusive but a huge number of reports indicate that, among putative aggravating factors, several metal ions (aluminum, zinc, copper, iron) could detrimentally impair the aggregation of β-amyloid (Aβ), a key protein apparently involved in the pathology. While studying the molecular basis of AD, it has become clear that the protein conformation plays a critical role in the pathogenic process. In this chapter, we will focus on the role of metal ions, specifically aluminum, in affecting Aβ-amyloid aggregation examining also the toxicity of these complexes in cell culture models.