Fluorescence Chemicals to Detect Insoluble and Soluble Amyloid-β Aggregates

Donghee Lee, Sung Min Kim, Hye Yun Kim, Youngsoo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Misfolded amyloid-β (Aβ) is the key biomarker of Alzheimer's disease (AD), and discoveries of fluorescence chemicals visualizing such Aβ aggregates in the brain have made major contributions in postmortem and antemortem diagnosis of the disorder. Insoluble senile plaques of Aβ in brain tissues are commonly stained with thioflavin and congo red dyes and observed through microscopy, while those in living patient brains are detected via radioisotope-labeled fluorescence chemicals for positron emission tomography. Clinical evidence strongly supports the view that plaques are well-associated with the onset but not with the progression of AD. Plaques could accumulate while cognitive functions of at-risk individuals are still intact, and thus, another biomarker is needed to monitor neurodegeneration. Soluble Aβ oligomers are considered to have strong correlation with neuronal loss and brain atrophy as they are the most neurotoxic forms of misfolded Aβ. However, oligomer-targeting probes encounter several major difficulties in development. There is a significant structural distinction between two Aβ species - plaques are β-sheet-rich while oligomers are unordered - and it is still difficult to isolate and stabilize the oligomeric forms of Aβ. Due to these challenges, soluble oligomer-detecting imaging probes are relatively rare compared to the plaque-targeting chemical probes. This Review describes biochemical and optical characteristics of up-to-date fluorescence chemicals targeting insoluble plaques and soluble oligomers of Aβ. We also highlight the contributions of Aβ fluorescence chemicals to the clinical diagnosis of AD and technical challenges in searching for enhanced imaging probes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2647-2657
Number of pages11
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun 19

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
*E-mail: hyeyunkim@yonsei.ac.kr. Tel.: +82-32-749-4526. Fax: +82-32-749-4105. *E-mail: y.kim@yonsei.ac.kr. Tel.: +82-32-749-4523. Fax: +82-32-749-4105. ORCID YoungSoo Kim: 0000-0001-5029-7082 Author Contributions D.L., H.Y.K, and Y.K. wrote the manuscript. S.M.K. collected information on fluorescence chemicals and made the table. Funding This work was supported by Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI, HI14C3319), National Research Foundation (Basic Science Research Program NRF-2018R1A6A1A03023718 and 2018R1D1A1B0704885), and Yonsei University (2018-22-0022). Notes The authors declare no competing financial interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Chemical Society.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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