Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a major dementia related to an overproduction of free radicals (FRs), which leads to the generation of oxidative stress in brain tissue. Amyloid beta-peptide of 42 amino acid residues (Aβ1–42) is the main source of FRs in patients with AD. βA1–42 results from hydrolysis of the amyloid precursor protein by β-secretase in a process known as the amyloidogenic pathway. During βA1–42 aggregation, the peptide interacts with various transition metals to produce hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) by the Fenton reaction, generating the hydroxyl radical (•OH), which damages lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids, thereby contributing to neurodegeneration. In addition, βA1–42 is recognized by microglial receptors; it activates these cells, causing overproduction of superoxide anion (O2•−) by NADPH oxidase; O2•− is also converted into H2O2 and finally to •OH in the Fenton reaction. Other factors that contribute to oxidative stress during microglial activation are the overproduction of nitric oxide and interleukins and the overexpression of some enzymes, including cyclooxygenase and inducible nitric oxide synthase, all of which contribute to FR production. Currently, various models in vitro and in vivo exist that permit quantification of O2•− and H2O2 and determination of the effects of these reactive oxygen species.
Part of the book: Free Radicals and Diseases