Cerebellar Calcium-Binding Protein and Neurotrophin Receptor Defects in Down Syndrome and Alzheimer's Disease

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Cerebellar hypoplasia is a major characteristic of the Down syndrome (DS) brain. However, the consequences of trisomy upon cerebellar Purkinje cells (PC) and interneurons in DS are unclear. The present study performed a quantitative and qualitative analysis of cerebellar neurons immunostained with antibodies against calbindin D-28k (Calb), parvalbumin (Parv), and calretinin (Calr), phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated intermediate neurofilaments (SMI-34 and SMI-32), and high (TrkA) and low (p75) affinity nerve growth factor (NGF) receptors as well as tau and amyloid in DS ( = 12), Alzheimer's disease (AD) ( = 10), and healthy non-dementia control (HC) ( = 8) cases. Our findings revealed higher Aβ plaque load in DS compared to AD and HC but no differences in APP/Aβ plaque load between HC, AD, and DS. The cerebellar cortex neither displayed Aβ containing plaques nor pathologic phosphorylated tau in any of the cases examined. The number and optical density (OD) measurements of Calb immunoreactive (-ir) PC soma and dendrites were similar between groups, while the number of PCs positive for Parv and SMI-32 were significantly reduced in AD and DS compared to HC. By contrast, the number of SMI-34-ir PC dystrophic axonal swellings, termed torpedoes, was significantly greater in AD compared to DS. No differences in SMI-32- and Parv-ir PC OD measurements were observed between groups. Conversely, total number of Parv- (stellate/basket) and Calr (Lugaro, brush, and Golgi)-positive interneurons were significantly reduced in DS compared to AD and HC. A strong negative correlation was found between counts for Parv-ir interneurons, Calr-ir Golgi and brush cells, and Aβ plaque load. Number of TrkA and p75 positive PCs were reduced in AD compared to HC. These findings suggest that disturbances in calcium binding proteins play a critical role in cerebellar neuronal dysfunction in adults with DS.


Alzheimer's disease, Down syndrome, Purkinje cells, amyloid, calcium binding proteins, cerebellum, nerve growth factor receptors, tau

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Frontiers in aging neuroscience





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