Protein aggregation

G. Merlini, V. Bellotti, A. Andreola, G. Palladini, L. Obici, S. Casarini, V. Perfetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Protein aggregation occurs in vivo as a result of improper folding or misfolding. Diverse diseases arise from protein misfolding and are now grouped under the term "protein conformational diseases", including most of the neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, the prion encephalopathies and Huntington's disease, as well as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and other less common conditions. The hallmark event in these diseases is a change in the secondary and/or tertiary structure of a normal, functional protein, leading to the formation of protein aggregates with various supramolecular organizations. In most cases the aggregates are organized in structurally well-defined fibrils forming amyloid deposits. The crucial feature of the amyloidogenic proteins is their structural instability induced either by mutations, post-translational modifications, or local conditions, such as pH, temperature, and co-solutes. The conformational change may promote the disease either by gain of a toxic activity or by the lack of biological function of the natively folded protein. As different molecular mechanisms are involved in the formation of the various forms of protein aggregates, the laboratory diagnostic approach remains frequently elusive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1065-1075
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Amyloidosis
  • Light chain deposition disease
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Protein conformational diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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