Alzheimer’s Amyloid-β is an Antimicrobial Peptide: A Review of the Evidence

Maya L. Gosztyla, Holly M. Brothers, Stephen R. Robinson
  • Journal of Alzheimer s Disease, March 2018, IOS Press
  • DOI: 10.3233/jad-171133

The Alzheimer's protein, Amyloid-β, helps protect our brains from microbes

What is it about?

Amyloid-β is best known as a harmful protein that accumulates in the brain of people with Alzheimer's disease. However, this protein also has important roles as part of the human immune system. A growing body of evidence suggests that amyloid-β can trap and kill invading microbes that could lead to a brain infection.

Why is it important?

Most recent clinical trials for Alzheimer's disease have targeted amyloid-β. trials suffer from poor effectiveness and often cause side effects, including infections. By considering amyloid-β's important role as an antimicrobial peptide, we may be able to address these problems and create more effective treatments.


Maya L Gosztyla (Author)
The Ohio State University

As my very first professional publication, this article was a fantastic experience for me to write. I hope that it makes people rethink amyloid-β as not a disease-causing villain, but instead a misunderstood hero with an important function in the immune system.

Stephen Robinson (Author)
RMIT University

In 2002-2004 I published a series of papers with Glenda Bishop in which we proposed that one of the key roles of amyloid-β in the brain was to intercept and neutralise pathogens (bacteria and viruses). At the time we had no direct evidence to support this proposal, and we were widely considered to be part of the 'lunatic fringe'. However, over the following 15 years, data generated by multiple laboratories has confirmed that we were correct. This paper reviews that evidence.

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The following have contributed to this page: Maya L Gosztyla and Stephen Robinson