Evidence that transmitter-containing dystrophic neurites precede those containing paired helical filaments within senile plaques in the entorhinal cortex of nondemented elderly and Alzheimer's disease patients

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Within the amygdala of elderly subjects and patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), we recently found evidence suggesting amyloid β-protein (AβP) deposition occurs before the appearance of dystrophic neurites. Moreover, these data suggested dystrophic neurites initially lack evidence of cytoskeletal pathology although with time and further maturation, the dystrophic neurites display an altered cytoskeleton as evidenced by their immunoreactivity to Alz-50 and paired-helical filaments (PHF). These findings are of particular relevance to our understanding of the sequence of pathologic events in AD and thus it has become important to determine whether these events are unique to the amygdala or are representative of a more general pattern which can be found throughout the brain. Using a battery of antibodies to markers that are characteristic of AD pathology (i.e., AβP, PHF, and Alz-50), three peptidergic neurotransmitters (neurotensin, somatostatin, and substance P), and one neurotransmitter biosynthetic enzyme (choline acetyltransferase), we examined the entorhinal cortex (EC) of three groups of subjects (AD, normal elderly, and a group of nondemented elderly with numerous senile plaques.) The EC was studied, in part, because it is well recognized as a brain region displaying severe and, most importantly, early pathologic changes. Like the amygdala, we found evidence that amyloid β-protein immunoreactive (AβP-IR) and thioflavine-S-positive senile plaques occur within the Ec prior to the appearance of transmitter-, Alz-50, or PHF-immunoreactive dystrophic neurites. We also observed transmitter-immunoreactive dystrophic neurites in the absence of Alz-50 or PHF-immunolabeled dystrophic neurites and transmitter- and Alz-50-IR dystrophic neurites in the absence of those containing PHF. Collectively, these findings were similar to those seen within the amygdala and thus reinforced the concept that AβP deposition is the primary event in plaque pathology, and this deposition is subsequently followed by the appearance of dystrophic neurites which retain their transmitter phenotype yet lack an altered cytoskeleton. With time, these dystrophic neurites develop cytoskeletal alterations and become immunoreactive to Alz-50 and PHF. © 1993.


Alz-50, Amyloid β-protein, Immunocytochemistry, Neuropeptide, Paired-Helical Filament, Pathogenesis, Senile plaque

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Brain Research







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