Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative pathology among progressive dementias, and it is characterized by the accumulation in the brain of extracellular aggregates of beta-amyloid proteins and neurofibrillary intracellular tangles consisting of & tau;-hyperphosphorylated proteins. Under normal conditions, beta-amyloid peptides exert important trophic and antioxidant roles, while their massive presence leads to a cascade of events culminating in the onset of AD. The fibrils of beta-amyloid proteins are formed by the process of fibrillogenesis that, starting from individual monomers of beta-amyloid, can generate polymers of this protein, constituting the hypothesis of the "amyloid cascade". To date, due to the lack of pharmacological treatment for AD without toxic side effects, chemical research is directed towards the realization of hybrid compounds that can act as an adjuvant in the treatment of this neurodegenerative pathology. The hybrid compounds used in this work include moieties of a hydroxytyrosol, a nitrohydroxytyrosol, a tyrosol, and a homovanillyl alcohol bound to the N-benzylpiperidine moiety of donepezil, the main drug used in AD. Previous experiments have shown different properties of these hybrids, including low toxicity and antioxidant and chelating activities. The purpose of this work was to test the effects of hybrid compounds mixed with A & beta; 1-40 to induce fibrillogenesis and mimic AD pathogenesis. This condition has been studied both in test tubes and by an in vitro model of neuronal differentiated human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. The results obtained from test tube experiments showed that some hybrids inhibit the activity of the enzymes AChE, BuChE, and BACE-1. Cell experiments suggested that hybrids could inhibit fibrillogenesis, negatively modulating caspase-3. They were also shown to exert antioxidant effects, and the acetylated hybrids were found to be more functional and efficient than nonacetylated forms.
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