Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Mark A. Lovell


Alzheimer’s disease (AD), one of the major causes of disability and mortality in Western societies, is a progressive age-related neurodegenerative disorder. Increasing evidence suggests the etiology of AD may involve disruptions of zinc (Zn) homeostasis. We hypothesize that disruption of Zn homeostasis leads to alterations of Zn transporter (ZnT) proteins, resulting in increased production of neurotoxic amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide in AD brain. To address this hypothesis we carried out the following studies.

1. We characterized alterations of ZnT-1, ZnT-4 and ZnT-6 in the brain of preclinical AD (PCAD) subjects, who show no overt clinical manifestations of AD but demonstrate significant AD pathology at autopsy.

2. We identified the presence of ZnT-2 in human brain and compared protein levels in the brains of subjects with PCAD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), early (EAD), and late-stage AD (LAD) to those in age matched normal control (NC) subjects.

3. We examined the relationship between protein levels of ZnT-1, ZnT-2, ZnT-4, ZnT-6 and Aβ produced by H4 human neuroglioma cells (H4-APP) transfected to overexpress amyloid precursor protein (APP), treated with short interfering RNA (siRNA) against each ZnT.

Our data show a significant decrease (P < 0.05) of ZnT-1 and a significant increase of ZnT-6 in hippocampus/parahippo-campal gyrus (HPG) of PCAD subjects. In PCAD cerebellum (CER) the data show a significant increase of ZnT-4 and ZnT-6 compared to NC subjects. Levels of ZnT-2 were also significantly decreased in HPG of PCAD subjects compared to NC subjects. In addition, levels of ZnT-2 were significantly (P < 0.05) elevated in SMTG of PCAD and MCI subjects, compared to NC subjects. ZnT-2 was significantly (P < 0.05) elevated in HPG of EAD and LAD, and in SMTG of LAD brains, but was significantly (P < 0.05) decreased in LAD CER compared to NC subjects. siRNA mediated attenuation of each ZnT protein studied (ZnT-2, ZnT-4 and ZnT-6) led to significantly (P < 0.05) decreased production of Aβ compared to controls.

Our results suggest alterations in Zn transport may play a role in Aβ processing and contribute to the neuropathology of AD.

Included in

Chemistry Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.