Cholesterol metabolism and transport in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease

Authors

  • Ian J. Martins,

    1. Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia
    2. Sir James McCusker Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit, Hollywood Private Hospital, Nedlands, Australia
    3. School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia
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  • Tamar Berger,

    1. Sir James McCusker Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit, Hollywood Private Hospital, Nedlands, Australia
    2. School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia
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  • Matthew J. Sharman,

    1. Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia
    2. Sir James McCusker Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit, Hollywood Private Hospital, Nedlands, Australia
    3. School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia
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  • Giuseppe Verdile,

    1. Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia
    2. Sir James McCusker Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit, Hollywood Private Hospital, Nedlands, Australia
    3. School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia
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  • Stephanie J. Fuller,

    1. Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia
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  • Ralph N. Martins

    1. Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia
    2. Sir James McCusker Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit, Hollywood Private Hospital, Nedlands, Australia
    3. School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to Prof Ralph Martins, Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care, School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, Western Australia 6027, Australia. E-mail: r.martins@ecu.edu.au

Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder, affecting millions of people worldwide. Apart from age, the major risk factor identified so far for the sporadic form of AD is possession of the ɛ4 allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE), which is also a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD). Other apolipoproteins known to play an important role in CAD such as apolipoprotein B are now gaining attention for their role in AD as well. AD and CAD share other risk factors, such as altered cholesterol levels, particularly high levels of low density lipoproteins together with low levels of high density lipoproteins. Statins – drugs that have been used to lower cholesterol levels in CAD, have been shown to protect against AD, although the protective mechanism(s) involved are still under debate. Enzymatic production of the beta amyloid peptide, the peptide thought to play a major role in AD pathogenesis, is affected by membrane cholesterol levels. In addition, polymorphisms in several proteins and enzymes involved in cholesterol and lipoprotein transport and metabolism have been linked to risk of AD. Taken together, these findings provide strong evidence that changes in cholesterol metabolism are intimately involved in AD pathogenic processes. This paper reviews cholesterol metabolism and transport, as well as those aspects of cholesterol metabolism that have been linked with AD.

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