Protein misfolding in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease: Genetics and molecular mechanisms

Gianluigi Forloni, Liana Terreni, Ilaria Bertani, Sergio Fogliarino, Roberto Invernizzi, Andrea Assini, Giuseppe Ribizzi, Alessandro Negro, Elena Calabrese, Maria Antonietta Volonté, Claudio Mariani, Massimo Franceschi, Massimo Tabaton, Alessandro Bertoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The accumulation of altered proteins is a common pathogenic mechanism in several neurodegenerative disorders. A causal role of protein aggregation was originally proposed in Alzheimer's disease (AD) where extracellular deposition of β-amyloid (Aβ) is the main neuropathological feature. It is now believed that intracellular deposition of aggregated proteins may be relevant in Parkinson's disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and polyglutamine disorders. An impairment of ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) appears directly involved in these disorders. We reviewed the results on the role of protein misfolding in AD and PD and the influence of mutations associated with these diseases on the expression of amyloidogenic proteins. Results of genetic screening of familial cases of AD and PD are summarized. In the familial AD population (70 subjects) we found several mutations of the presenilin 1 (PS1) gene with a frequency of 12.8% and one mutation in the gene encoding the protein precursor of amyloid (APP) (1.4%). One mutation of Parkin in the homozygous form and two in the heterozygous form were identified in our PD population. We also reported data obtained with synthetic peptides and other experimental models, for evaluation of the pathogenic role of mutations in terms of protein misfolding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-976
Number of pages20
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2002


  • Amyloid
  • Parkin ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS)
  • Presenilins
  • Synuclein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)


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