This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease Drug Discovery

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Physiological and pathological aspects of Aβ in iron homeostasis via 5'UTR in the APP mRNA and the therapeutic use of iron-chelators

Yael Avramovich-Tirosh, Tamar Amit, Orit Bar-Am, Orly Weinreb and Moussa BH Youdim*

Author affiliations

Department of Pharmacology, Eve Topf and USA NPF Centers of Excellence, Technion-Faculty of Medicine, 31096 Haifa, Israel

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2008, 9(Suppl 2):S2  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-9-S2-S2

Published: 3 December 2008


Many studies have highlighted the pathological involvement of iron accumulation and iron-related oxidative stress (OS) in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Iron was further demonstrated to modulate expression of the Alzheimer's amyloid precursor holo-protein (APP) by a mechanism similar to that of regulation of ferritin-L and -H mRNA translation through an iron-responsive element (IRE) in their 5' untranslated regions (UTRs). Here, we discuss two aspects of the link between iron and AD, in relation to the recently discovered IRE in the 5'UTR of APP mRNA. The first is the physiological aspect: a compensatory neuroprotective response of amyloid-β protein (Aβ) in reducing iron-induced neurotoxicity. Thus, given that Aβ possesses iron chelation sites, it is hypothesized that OS-induced intracellular iron may stimulate APP holo-protein translation (via the APP 5'UTR) and subsequently the generation of its cleavage product, Aβ, as a compensatory response that eventually reduces OS. The second is the pathological aspect: iron chelating compounds target the APP 5'UTR and possess the capacity to reduce APP translation, and subsequently Aβ levels, and thus represent molecules with high potential in the development of drugs for the treatment of AD.