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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia worldwide. AD brains display deposits of insoluble amyloid plaques consisting mainly of aggregated amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides, and Aβ oligomers are likely a toxic species in AD pathology. AD patients display altered metal homeostasis, and AD plaques show elevated concentrations of metals such as Cu, Fe, and Zn. Yet, the metal chemistry in AD pathology remains unclear. Ni(II) ions are known to interact with Aβ peptides, but the nature and effects of such interactions are unknown. Here, we use numerous biophysical methods-mainly spectroscopy and imaging techniques-to characterize Aβ/Ni(II) interactions in vitro, for different Aβ variants: Aβ(1-40), Aβ(1-40)(H6A, H13A, H14A), Aβ(4-40), and Aβ(1-42). We show for the first time that Ni(II) ions display specific binding to the N-terminal segment of full-length Aβ monomers. Equimolar amounts of Ni(II) ions retard Aβ aggregation and direct it towards non-structured aggregates. The His6, His13, and His14 residues are implicated as binding ligands, and the Ni(II)·Aβ binding affinity is in the low µM range. The redox-active Ni(II) ions induce formation of dityrosine cross-links via redox chemistry, thereby creating covalent Aβ dimers. In aqueous buffer Ni(II) ions promote formation of beta sheet structure in Aβ monomers, while in a membrane-mimicking environment (SDS micelles) coil-coil helix interactions appear to be induced. For SDS-stabilized Aβ oligomers, Ni(II) ions direct the oligomers towards larger sizes and more diverse (heterogeneous) populations. All of these structural rearrangements may be relevant for the Aβ aggregation processes that are involved in AD brain pathology.

Original publication




Journal article


Scientific reports

Publication Date





Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Arrhenius Laboratories, Stockholm University, 106 91, Stockholm, Sweden.


Brain, Humans, Alzheimer Disease, Ions, Nickel, Biophysics, Amyloid beta-Peptides, Plaque, Amyloid