Plaques containing fibrillar amyloid-beta (Abeta) are a characteristic finding in Alzheimer's disease. Although plaque counts correlate poorly with the extent of cognitive deficits in this disorder, fibrillar Abeta can promote neuronal damage through a variety of mechanisms. External beam radiotherapy has been reported to be an effective treatment for tracheobronchial amyloidosis, in which amyloid is deposited as submucosal plaques and tumor-like masses in the trachea and/or bronchi. Radiotherapy's effectiveness in this disorder is thought to be due to its toxicity to plasma cells, but direct effects of radiotherapy on amyloid may also be involved. On this basis, whole-brain radiotherapy has been suggested as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of external beam radiation on preformed Abeta1-42 fibrils and on the formation of these fibrils. Using the Thioflavin-T assay, no effects of radiation were found on either of these parameters. Our results in this in vitro study suggest that whole-brain irradiation is unlikely to directly reduce plaque counts in the Alzheimer's disease brain. This treatment might still lower plaque counts indirectly, but any potential benefits would need to be weighed against its possible neurotoxic effects, which could induce further cognitive deficits.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john_finke/8/