Copper accumulation and the effect of chelation treatment on cerebral amyloid angiopathy compared to parenchymal amyloid plaques
Accumulation of fibrillar amyloid β-protein (Aβ) in parenchymal plaques and in blood vessels of the brain, the latter condition known as cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), are hallmark pathologies of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related disorders. Cerebral amyloid deposits have been reported to accumulate various metals, most notably copper and zinc. Here we show that, in human AD, copper is preferentially accumulated in amyloid-containing brain blood vessels compared to parenchymal amyloid plaques. In light of this observation, we evaluated the effects of reducing copper levels in Tg2576 mice, a transgenic model of AD amyloid pathologies. The copper chelator, tetrathiomolybdate (TTM), was administered to twelve month old Tg2576 mice for a period of five months. Copper chelation treatment significantly reduced both CAA and parenchymal plaque load in Tg2576 mice. Further, copper chelation reduced parenchymal plaque copper content but had no effect on CAA copper levels in this model. These findings indicate that copper is associated with both CAA deposits and parenchymal amyloid plaques in humans, but less in Tg2576 mice. TTM only reduces copper levels in plaques in Tg2576 mice. Reducing copper levels in the brain may beneficially lower amyloid pathologies associated with AD.