How proteins implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and the vascular disease atherosclerosis are recognized is revealed in a report published online this week in Nature Immunology.
Kathryn Moore and colleagues found that three cell surface proteins ― TLR4, TLR6 and CD36 ― previously implicated in the recognition of specific microbial patterns assemble to form a newly identified molecular complex. CD36 recognizes the atherosclerosis-associated protein oxidized LDL (oxLDL) as well as the beta-amyloid peptide linked to Alzheimer’s disease, recruiting TLR4 and TLR6 in the recognition process. Signals triggered by this tri-molecular complex in immune cells induce production of proinflammatory mediators implicated in the pathology of these diseases.
Identification of a common molecular pathway involved in triggering and maintaining inflammation in atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease represents an opportunity to devise therapies that may be effective in both conditions.