Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Major Professor

Norma Alcantar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Jaroszeski, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ryan Toomey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Morgan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Garrett Matthews, Ph.D.


passive immunotherapy, ATR-FTIR, AFM, monomer, oligomer, protofibril, fibril, protein folding, ß-sheet, ß-strand


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of senile dementia worldwide. AD is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the loss of memory and language skill, collapse of the cognitive function, and distortion of social behavior. As of today, the onset mechanisms of AD and cure are unknown; however, three hallmarks are commonly encountered: extra and intracellular accumulation of amyloid beta (A!) peptide plaques, formation of intracellular neurofibrillary tangles, and inevitable neuronal death. Hypothetically, a possible scenario provoking or involved in the onset of AD is a cascade effect that starts with an imbalance in the production and clearance of Aß peptide that consequently leads to its accumulation, formation of tau protein tangles and neuronal death. This work studied and characterized the mechanisms governing A! peptide aggregation and the effects of using anti-Aß monoclonal antibodies to modify this process. These mechanisms play an important role in the formation of AD plaques and are critical in the search for therapies involving Aß peptide plaque clearance. Yet, antibody-based therapies for plaque clearance are not well understood, adding to the existing concerns about side effects in humans, hence there is a necessity of knowledge in this matter. In this work different Nterminus, C-terminus, and Mid-domain antibodies were used against Aß peptide species (monomers, oligomers, and fibrils) to probe peptide aggregates modification and disruption. Additionally, construction of a soft supported lipid bilayer membrane was proposed to study the adhesion mechanisms of Aß peptide and interactions with antibodies, mimicking the neuronal cell surface. The main characterization techniques used in this work were: atomic force microscopy (AFM) and transmission electron microscopy that allowed the physical exploration and visualization of the different processes of aggregation in terms of adhesion, size evolution, and distribution of the peptide; and attenuated total reflectance Fourier spectroscopy (ATR/FTIR) which allowed monitoring the change of secondary structures for the peptide during the processes studied. It is endeavored that this work will help to elucidate the effects attributed to the molecular interactions between A! peptide species and antibodies to target Aß plaque’s clearance in the brain of AD patients. Ultimately, this study provides novel information critical for the formulation of effective therapies to prevent and treat AD with less collateral effects. It also represents a contribution to the basic scientific knowledge regarding peptide-antibody interactions with application to other diseases related to protein misfolding.