Effect of carbonaceous ultrafine particles on the structure and oligomerization of Aβ42 peptide

Samal Kaumbekova, Mehdi Amouei Torkmahalleh, Masakazu Umezawa, Yanwei Wang, Dhawal Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The impact of pervasive air pollutants on human health is a growing concern in scientific communities. Among different air pollutants, ultrafine particles (UFPs; with aerodynamic diameter <100 nm) might pass through biological barriers and have a severe impact on human health, including early progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). A significant fraction of UFPs consists of carbonaceous compounds, composed of elemental and organic carbon (EC and OC). While in-vivo experimental studies showed the neurotoxicity of typical OC and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the molecular interactions involved in the progression of AD remain unclear. In this study, molecular dynamics simulations were performed to investigate the impact of carbonaceous UFPs on the structure of the Aβ42 monomer and the oligomerization of four Aβ42 peptides, associated with the development of AD. For the simulations, a fullerene (C60) was used for the modeling of EC, while benzo [a]pyrene (B[a]P) was used for the modeling of OC. The results revealed that the presence of C60 accelerated the tetramerization of Aβ42 peptides by 2.5 times, while C60/B[a]P promoted the unfolding of the peptide monomer showing the strongest interactions with the Aβ42 monomer. Similarly, C60/4B[a]P decreased the number of helices in the secondary structure of the peptide monomer by 60%. The simplified UFP models in this study, promoted the early aggregation of peptides to dimers, suggesting the progression of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121273
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2023


  • Alzheimer's diseases
  • Amyloid beta peptide
  • Carbonaceous ultrafine particles
  • Environmental nanotoxicology
  • Oligomerization
  • Protein structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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