Metal ions affect the formation and stability of amyloid β aggregates at multiple length scales

Myeongsang Lee, Jae In Kim, Sungsoo Na, Kilho Eom

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Amyloid β (Aβ) aggregates, which are a hallmark for neurodegenerative disease, are formed through a self-assembly process such as aggregation of Aβ peptide chains. This aggregation process depends on the solvent conditions under which the proteins are aggregated. Nevertheless, the underlying mechanism of the ionic effect on the formation and stability of amyloid aggregates has not been fully understood. Here, we report how metal ions play a role in the formation and stability of Aβ aggregates at different length scales, i.e. oligomers and fibrils. It is shown that the metal (i.e. zinc or copper) ion increases the stability of Aβ oligomers, whereas the metal ion reduces the stability of Aβ fibrils. In addition, we found that zinc ions are able to more effectively destabilize fibril structures than copper ions. Metal ion-mediated (de)stabilization of Aβ oligomers (or fibrils) is attributed to the critical effect of the metal ion on the β-sheet rich crystalline structure of the amyloid aggregate and the status of hydrogen bonds within the aggregate. Our study sheds light on the role of the metal ion in stabilizing the amyloid oligomers known as a toxic agent (to functional cells), which is consistent with clinical observation that high concentrations of metal ions are found in patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8951-8961
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
K. E. appreciates the financial support from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) under Grant No. NRF-2015R1A2A2A04002453, and the support from Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) under Grant No. KSC-2017-C3-0002. S. N. gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the NRF through Basic Science Research Program funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (MSIP) under Grant No. NRF-2016R1A5A1010148.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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