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Tramiprosate, a drug of potential interest for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, promotes an abnormal aggregation of tau

Ismael Santa-Maria1, Félix Hernández1, Joaquín Del Rio23, Francisco J Moreno1 and Jesús Avila13*

Author Affiliations

1 Centro de Biología Molecular "Severo Ochoa" CSIC/UAM, Fac. Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain

2 Division of Neurosciences, CIMA, School of Medicine, University of Navarra, Av. PioXII, 55, 31008 Pamplona, Spain


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Molecular Neurodegeneration 2007, 2:17  doi:10.1186/1750-1326-2-17

Published: 6 September 2007


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by the presence of two histopathological hallmarks; the senile plaques, or extracellular deposits mainly composed of amyloid-β peptide (Aβ), and the neurofibrillary tangles, or intraneuronal inclusions composed of hyperphosphorylated tau protein.

Since Aβ aggregates are found in the pathological cases, several strategies are under way to develop drugs that interact with Aβ to reduce its assembly. One of them is 3-amino-1-propane sulfonic acid (Tramiprosate, 3-APS, Alzhemed™), that was developed as a sulfated glycosaminoglycan mimetic, that could interact with Aβ peptide, preventing its aggregation.

However, little is known about the action of 3-APS on tau protein aggregation. In this work, we have tested the action of 3-APS on cell viability, microtubule network, actin organization and tau aggregation. Our results indicate that 3-APS favours tau aggregation, in tau transfected non-neuronal cells, and in neuronal cells. We also found that 3-APS does not affect the binding of tau to microtubules but may prevent the formation of tau-actin aggregates. We like to emphasize the importance of testing on both types of pathology (amyloid and tau) the potential drugs to be used for AD treatment.