Alois Alzheimer first pointed out that the disease which would later bear his name has a distinct and recognizable neuropathological substrate. Since then, much has been added to our understanding of the pathological lesions associated with the condition. The 2 primary cardinal lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease are the neurofibrillary tangle and the senile plaque. The neurofibrillary tangle consists of abnormal accumulations of abnormally phosphorylated tau within the perikaryal cytoplasm of certain neurons. The senile plaque consists of a central core of beta-amyloid, a 4-kD peptide, surrounded by abnormally configured neuronal processes or neurites. Other neuropathological lesions are encountered in cases of Alzheimer's disease, but the disease is defined and recognized by these 2 cardinal lesions. Other lesions include poorly understood changes such as granulovacuolar degeneration and eosinophilic rod-like bodies (Hirano bodies). The loss of synaptic components is a change that clearly has a significant impact on cognitive function and represents another important morphological alteration. It is important to recognize that distinguishing between Alzheimer's disease, especially in its early stages, and normal aging may be very difficult, particularly if one is examining the brains of patients who died at an advanced old age. It is also noted that instances of pure forms of Alzheimer's disease, in the absence of other coexistent brain disease processes, such as infarctions or Parkinson's disease–related lesions, are relatively uncommon, and this must be taken into account by researchers who employ postmortem brain tissues for research.
Alzheimer's disease; beta-amyloid; neurofibrillary tangle; neuropathology; senile plaque
In exploring the cognitive reserve hypothesis in persons with substantial Alzheimer disease neuropathology, we aimed to determine the extent to which educational attainment and densities of diffuse plaques, neuritic plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles predict dementia. Participants were 1563 individuals aged 65 years or above who were assessed for dementia within 1 year of death. Generalized linear mixed models were used to examine whether education and density ratings of diffuse plaques and neuritic plaques, and neurofibrillary tangle stage were associated with a dementia diagnosis. Education interacted with densities of neuritic plaques to predict dementia. Tangle density independently predicted dementia, but did not interact with education. Diffuse plaque density was unrelated to dementia when adjusted for densities of neuritic plaques and tangles. Among individuals with Alzheimer disease neuropathology, educational attainment, as a surrogate of cognitive reserve, modifies the influence of neuritic, but not diffuse, plaque neuropathology on the expression of dementia.
Alzheimer disease; cognitive reserve; education; neuropathology
Many cognitively impaired patients’ brains fall into neuropathologic diagnostic categories that cannot be defined explicitly by the National Institute on Aging and Reagan Institute (NIA-RI) guidelines. Two specific case categories are considered: “tangle-intensive” patients with the highest density of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs, as graded by the Braak staging system) but only moderate density of neuritic amyloid plaques (NPs, as graded by CERAD); and conversely “plaque-intensive” patients with intermediate severity NFTs and high density of NPs. To better understand these technically unclassifiable cases, we analyzed NACC Registry data, which includes both clinical and pathological information from the National Institute on Aging-funded Alzheimer Disease Centers (ADCs). 1,672 cases with antemortem diagnoses of dementia were included. To evaluate the diagnostic tendencies of ADC neuropathologists, we assessed how the plaque-intensive and tangle-intensive cases were diagnosed ultimately. Tangle-intensive cases were more likely to be designated “High likelihood” that the dementia was due to AD, whereas plaque-intensive cases were typically designated “Intermediate likelihood”. Only the Braak stage VI “tangle-intensive” cases had lower final MMSE scores than the “plaque-intensive” cases (P<0.02). We conclude that more explicit diagnostic categories, along with better understanding of pathology in earlier phases of the disease, may be helpful to better guide neuropathologists.
To examine whether the association between clinical Alzheimer disease (AD) diagnosis and neuropathology and the precision by which neuropathology differentiates people with clinical AD from those with normal cognition varies by age.
We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 2,014 older adults (≥70 years at death) from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center database with clinical diagnosis of normal cognition (made ≤1 year before death, n = 419) or AD (at ≥65 years, n = 1,595) and a postmortem neuropathologic examination evaluating AD pathology (neurofibrillary tangles, neuritic plaques) and non-AD pathology (diffuse plaques, amyloid angiopathy, Lewy bodies, macrovascular disease, microvascular disease). We used adjusted logistic regression to analyze the relationship between clinical AD diagnosis and neuropathologic features, area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (c statistic) to evaluate how precisely neuropathology differentiates between cognitive diagnoses, and an interaction to identify effect modification by age group.
In a model controlling for coexisting neuropathologic features, the relationship between clinical AD diagnosis and neurofibrillary tangles was significantly weaker with increasing age (p < 0.001 for interaction). The aggregate of all neuropathologic features more strongly differentiated people with clinical AD from those without in younger age groups (70–74 years: c statistic, 95% confidence interval: 0.93, 0.89–0.96; 75–84 years: 0.95, 0.87–0.95; ≥85 years: 0.83, 0.80–0.87). Non-AD pathology significantly improved precision of differentiation across all age groups (p < 0.004).
Clinical AD diagnosis was more weakly associated with neurofibrillary tangles among the oldest old compared to younger age groups, possibly due to less accurate clinical diagnosis, better neurocompensation, or unaccounted pathology among the oldest old.
Cognitive decline has been described in elderly patients with schizophrenia, but the underlying pathology remains unknown. Some studies report increases in plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, but there is no evidence for an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in elderly schizophrenics. Models of a decreased cerebral reserve suggest that increases in AD-related neuropathology below the threshold for a neuropathological diagnosis could be related to dementia severity in elderly schizophrenia patients. We tested this hypothesis in 110 autopsy specimens of schizophrenia patients , without a neuropatholgical diagnosis of AD or other neurdegenerative disorders. Furthermore, we assessed the effects of apolipoprotein E (ApoE) status, a known genetic risk factor for AD. Measures of density of neuritic plaques were obtained in five cortical regions, and the degree of hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles was rated. Dementia severity was measured prior to postmortem using the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scale. In multivariate analyses of variance were conducted with the factors dementia severity, by ApoE4 carrier status. Hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles correlated with increased dementia severity (p < .05). Neuritic plaque density increased with greater dementia severity (p < .005), and ApoE4 carrier status (p < .005), and these differences were magnified by ApoE4 carrier status (p < .01). Even below the threshold for a neuropathological diagnosis of AD, neuritic plaques and hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles are associated with dementia severity in schizophrenia patients, even more so in the presence of genetic risk factors, suggesting that a decreased cerebral reserve in elderly schizophrenics may increase susceptibilty for dementia.
Schizophrenia; Alzheimer’s Disease; Neuropathology
Neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the neuropathological hallmarks of AD, are not limited to individuals with dementia. These pathologic changes can also be present in the brains of cognitively normal older adults – a condition we defined as Asymptomatic AD (ASYMAD). Although it remains unclear whether these individuals would remain clinically normal with longer survival, they seem to be able to compensate for or delay the appearance of dementia symptoms. Here, we provide a historical background and highlight the combined clinical, pathologic and morphometric evidence related to ASYMAD. Understanding the nature of changes during this apparently asymptomatic state may shed light on the mechanisms that forestall the progression of the disease and allow for maintenance of cognitive health, an important area of research that has been understudied relative to the identification of risks and pathways to negative health outcomes.
Normal aging; MCI; AD; neuropathology; beta-amyloid; neuronal hypertrophy
The state between aging with no cognitive impairment and dementia has become a major focus for intervention. The neuropathological and neurobiological correlates of this intermediate state are therefore of considerable interest, particularly from population representative samples. Here we investigate the neuropathological profile associated with different cognitive ability levels measured using strata defined by Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores. One hundred and fifty one individuals were stratified into three cognitive groups including: non-, mildly, and moderately impaired at death. Alzheimer’s disease, atrophy, and vascular pathologies were investigated. Mild impairment was associated with an increased risk of vascular pathologies including small vessel disease and lacunes. In contrast, the moderately impaired group showed a more extensive pattern of pathology, including tangles and neuritic plaques (entorhinal/hippocampus), atrophy (cortical and hippocampal), and vascular disease (small vessel disease, lacunes, and infarcts). In a population-based sample of older people, MMSE score defined strata are associated with multiple pathologies. The profile of AD and vascular changes becomes more complex with increased cognitive impairment and these changes are likely to constitute a major substrate for age associated cognitive impairment. The results highlight the need for rigorous investigation of both neurodegenerative and vascular risks factors in old age.
Aging; Alzheimer’s disease; cognitive impairment; neuropathology; vascular pathology
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive and irreversible neurodegenerative disease, and corresponds to the most common cause of dementia worldwide. Although not fully understood, the pathophysiology of AD is largely represented by the neurotoxic events triggered by the beta-amyloid cascade and by cytoskeletal abnormalities subsequent to the hyperphosphorylation of microtubule-associated Tau protein in neurons. These processes lead respectively to the formation of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which are the pathological hallmarks of the disease. Clinical benefits of the available pharmacological treatment for AD with antidementia drugs (namely cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine) are unquestionable, although limited to a temporary, symptomatic support to cognitive and related functions. Over the past decade, substantial funding and research have been dedicated to the search and development of new pharmaceutical compounds with disease-modifying properties. The rationale of such approach is that by tackling key pathological processes in AD it may be possible to attenuate or even change its natural history. In the present review, we summarize the available evidence on the new therapeutic approaches that target amyloid and Tau pathology in AD, focusing on pharmaceutical compounds undergoing phase 2 and phase 3 randomized controlled trials.
Alzheimer's disease; antidementia drug; beta-amyloid; cognitive impairment; Tau; treatment
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a major neurodegenerative disease affecting the elderly. Clinically, it is characterized by a progressive loss of memory and cognitive function. Neuropathologically, it is characterized by the presence of extracellular β-amyloid (Aβ) deposited as neuritic plaques (NP) and neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) made of abnormal and hyperphosphorylated tau protein. These lesions are capable of generating the neuronal damage that leads to cell death and cognitive failure through the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Evidence indicates the critical role of Aβ metabolism in prompting the oxidative stress observed in AD patients. However, it has also been proposed that oxidative damage precedes the onset of clinical and pathological AD symptoms, including amyloid-β deposition, neurofibrillary tangle formation, vascular malfunction, metabolic syndrome, and cognitive decline. This paper provides a brief description of the three main proteins associated with the development of the disease (Aβ, tau, and ApoE) and describes their role in the generation of oxidative stress. Finally, we describe the mitochondrial alterations that are generated by Aβ and examine the relationship of vascular damage which is a potential prognostic tool of metabolic syndrome. In addition, new therapeutic approaches targeting ROS sources and metabolic support were reported.
To test the hypothesis that harm avoidance, a trait associated with behavioral inhibition, is associated with risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
A total of 791 adults aged 55 years and older without dementia completed a standard self report measure of harm avoidance. They then underwent annual evaluations that included detailed cognitive testing and clinical classification of mild cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In a uniform neuropathologic examination of those who died, counts of neuritic plaques diffuse plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles were standardized and combined to yield a pathologic measure of disease. The relation of harm avoidance to incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and related outcomes was estimated in analyses adjusted for age, sex, and education.
During a mean of 3.5 years of annual observation, 98 people (12.4%) developed incident Alzheimer’s disease. High level of harm avoidance (90th percentile) was associated with a more than twofold increase in risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared to a low score (10th percentile). Higher harm avoidance was also associated with increased incidence of mild cognitive impairment and more rapid decline in episodic memory, working memory, and perceptual speed (but not semantic memory or visuospatial ability). In 116 participants who died and underwent brain autopsy, harm avoidance was not related to a composite measure of plaques and tangles.
High level of the harm avoidance trait, indicating a tendency toward behavioral inhibition, is related to risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and its precursor, mild cognitive impairment.
Harm avoidance; Alzheimer’s disease; mild cognitive impairment; cognitive decline; longitudinal studies; brain autopsy
We present a practical guide for the implementation of recently revised National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association guidelines for the neuropathologic assessment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Major revisions from previous consensus criteria are: (i) recognition that AD neuropathologic changes may occur in the apparent absence of cognitive impairment, (ii) an “ABC” score for AD neuropathologic change that incorporates histopathologic assessments of amyloid β deposits (A), staging of neurofibrillary tangles (B), and scoring of neuritic plaques (C), and (iii) more detailed approaches for assessing commonly co-morbid conditions such as Lewy body disease, vascular brain injury, hippocampal sclerosis, and TAR DNA binding protein (TDP)-43 immunoreactive inclusions. Recommendations also are made for the minimum sampling of brain, preferred staining methods with acceptable alternatives, reporting of results, and clinico-pathologic correlations.
Angiotensin II may be involved in amyloid metabolism in the brain. Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) may also prevent cognitive decline. We evaluated the impact of ARBs on the neuropathology in the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) database which includes aggregated data and brain autopsies from 29 Alzheimer’s Disease Centers throughout the USA.
Data from Participants were self- or provider-referred and included those with and without cognitive disorders. Our sample included hypertensive participants and excluded cognitively and neuro-pathologically normal participants (n=890, mean (range) age at death 81 (39–107) years, 43% women, 94% white). Neuropathological data included neuritic plaque and neurofibrillary tangle densities assessed by NIA-Reagan criteria and vascular injury markers. Multiple logistic regression was used to compare the pathological findings in subjects on ARBs to other antihypertensive treatment and to those who did not receive antihypertensive medications.
Participants who were exposed to ARBs, with or without AD, showed less amyloid deposition markers compared to those treated with other antihypertensives (lower CERAD OR=0.47, 95% confidence interval =0.27 to 0.81; ADRDA OR=0.43, CI=0.21 to 0.91; BRAAK & BRAAK OR=0.52, CI= 0.31 to 0.85; neuritic plaques OR=0.59, CI=0.37 to 0.96). They also had less AD-related pathology compared to untreated hypertensives. Participants receiving ARBs were more likely to have had a stroke and hence had more frequent pathological evidence of large vessel infarct and hemorrhage.
Treatment with ARBs is associated with less AD-related pathology on autopsy evaluations. The effect of ARBs on cognitive decline in those with dementia or AD needs further investigation.
To determine the frequency and possible cognitive effect of histological Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in autopsied older nondemented individuals.
Senile plaques (SPs) and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) were assessed quantitatively in 97 cases from 7 Alzheimer’s Disease Centers (ADCs). Neuropathological diagnoses of AD (npAD) were also made with four sets of criteria. Adjusted linear mixed models tested differences between participants with and without npAD on the quantitative neuropathology measures and psychometric test scores prior to death. Spearman rank-order correlations between AD lesions and psychometric scores at last assessment were calculated for cases with pathology in particular regions.
Washington University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
Ninety-seven nondemented participants who were age 60 years or older at death (mean = 84 years).
About 40% of nondemented individuals met at least some level of criteria for npAD; when strict criteria were used, about 20% of cases had npAD. Substantial overlap of Braak neurofibrillary stages occurred between npAD and no-npAD cases. Although there was no measurable cognitive impairment prior to death for either the no-npAD or npAD groups, cognitive function in nondemented aging appears to be degraded by the presence of NFTs and SPs.
Neuropathological processes related to AD in persons without dementia appear to be associated with subtle cognitive dysfunction and may represent a preclinical stage of the illness. By age 80–85 years, many nondemented older adults have substantial AD pathology.
preclinical Alzheimer’s disease; nondemented aging; neuropathological Alzheimer’s disease
To test the hypothesis that use of antihypertensive medication is associated with lower Alzheimer disease (AD) neuropathology.
This was a postmortem study of 291 brains limited to those with normal neuropathology or with uncomplicated AD neuropathology (i.e., without other dementia-associated neuropathology) in persons with or without hypertension (HTN) who were and were not treated with antihypertensive medications. Neuritic plaque (NP) and neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) densities, quantified in selected brain regions according to the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease (CERAD) neuropathologic criteria, with additional cortical NP counts, yielded 24 neuropathologic regional measures or summaries. Medicated hypertension (HTN-med; n = 77), nonmedicated HTN (HTN-nomed; n = 42), and non-HTN (no-HTN; n = 172) groups were compared by analyses of variance.
The HTN-med group had significantly less neuropathology than the no-HTN group. The no-HTN group averaged over 50% higher mean NP and NFT ratings, and double the mean NP count, of the HTN-med group. The HTN-nomed group had significantly more neuropathology than the HTN-med group, but not significantly less than the no-HTN group.
There was substantially less Alzheimer disease (AD) neuropathology in the medicated hypertension group than the nonhypertensive group, which may reflect a salutary effect of antihypertensive medication against AD-associated neuropathology.
= Alzheimer disease;
= analysis of covariance;
= analysis of variance;
= body mass index;
= calcium channel blockers;
= Clinical Dementia Rating scale;
= Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease;
= diastolic blood pressure;
= entorhinal cortex;
= Honolulu Asia Aging Study;
= inferior parietal lobule;
= Jewish Home and Hospital;
= midfrontal gyrus;
= Mount Sinai School of Medicine;
= neurofibrillary tangle;
= nursing homes;
= neuritic plaque;
= occipital calcarine cortex;
= orbital frontal cortex;
= systolic blood pressure;
= superior temporal gyrus.
We studied Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology in the precuneus and surrounding brain areas. Anatomically, the precuneus corresponds to the medial portion of human cerebral cortical Brodmann Area 7. This study utilized patients from the University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Center autopsy cohort. Data from 47 brains were used comprising patients of differing antemortem cognitive impairment severities, each with longitudinal clinical data and extensive neuropathological data. We assessed whether the precuneus and surrounding areas are differentially vulnerable to AD-type pathological lesions (diffuse amyloid plaques, neuritic amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles). Eleven areas of brain were evaluated for each case: amygdala, hippocampal CA1, subiculum, entorhinal cortex, frontal cortex, superior and middle temporal gyri, inferior parietal lobule, occipital cortex, posterior cingulate gyrus, Brodmann Area 31, and the precuneus proper. Like other areas of neocortex, the precuneus demonstrated increased diffuse and neuritic amyloid plaques early in the evolution in AD, and increased neurofibrillary tangles late in AD. Correcting for the antemortem cognitive status of the patients, there was no evidence of an increase in the density of AD-type pathology in the precuneus or neighboring areas relative to other areas of cerebral neocortex. Our results are not consistent with the idea that the precuneus is involved in a special way with plaques or tangles relative to other areas of neocortex.
Precuneus; Posterior cingulate; Parietal; MCI; Cognition; Neuropathology; Pathology; Tissue
Alzheimer disease (AD) is defined neuropathologically by the presence of neurofibrillary tangles and plaques associated with tau and β-amyloid protein deposition. The colocalization of microglia and β-amyloid plaques has been widely reported in pathological examination of AD and suggests that neuroinflammation may play a role in pathogenesis and/or progression. Because postmortem histopathological analyses are limited to single end-stage assessment, the time course and nature of this relationship are not well understood.
To image microglial activation and β-amyloid deposition in the brains of subjects with and without AD.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Using two carbon 11 ([11C])–labeled positron emission tomographic imaging agents, Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) and (R)-PK11195, we examined the relationship between amyloid deposition and microglial activation in different stages of AD using 5 control subjects, 6 subjects diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, and 6 patients with mild to moderate AD.
Consistent with prior reports, subjects with a clinical diagnosis of probable AD showed significantly greater levels of [11C]PiB retention than control subjects, whereas patients with mild cognitive impairment spanned a range from control-like to AD-like levels of [11C]PiB retention. Additionally, 2 asymptomatic control subjects also exhibited evidence of elevated PiB retention in regions associated with the early emergence of plaques in AD and may represent prodromal cases of AD. We observed no differences in brain [11C](R)-PK11195 retention when subjects were grouped by clinical diagnosis or the presence or absence of β-amyloid pathological findings as indicated by analyses of [11C]PiB retention.
These findings suggest that either microglial activation is limited to later stages of severe AD or [11C](R)-PK11195 is too insensitive to detect the level of microglial activation associated with mild to moderate AD.
The neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer disease (AD) include “positive” lesions such as amyloid plaques and cerebral amyloid angiopathy, neurofibrillary tangles, and glial responses, and “negative” lesions such as neuronal and synaptic loss. Despite their inherently cross-sectional nature, postmortem studies have enabled the staging of the progression of both amyloid and tangle pathologies, and, consequently, the development of diagnostic criteria that are now used worldwide. In addition, clinicopathological correlation studies have been crucial to generate hypotheses about the pathophysiology of the disease, by establishing that there is a continuum between “normal” aging and AD dementia, and that the amyloid plaque build-up occurs primarily before the onset of cognitive deficits, while neurofibrillary tangles, neuron loss, and particularly synaptic loss, parallel the progression of cognitive decline. Importantly, these cross-sectional neuropathological data have been largely validated by longitudinal in vivo studies using modern imaging biomarkers such as amyloid PET and volumetric MRI.
Amyloid plaque build-up occurs primarily before the onset of cognitive deficits. Neurofibrillary tangles, neuron loss, and synaptic loss parallel the progression of cognitive decline.
Although it is now accepted that asymptomatic cerebral infarcts are an important cause of dementia in the elderly, the relationship between atherosclerosis per se and dementia is controversial. Specifically, it is unclear whether atherosclerosis can cause the neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that define Alzheimer neuropathology and whether atherosclerosis, a potentially reversible risk factor, can influence cognition independent of brain infarcts.
We examined the relationship between systemic atherosclerosis, Alzheimer type pathology and dementia in autopsies from 200 participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), a prospective study of the effect of aging on cognition, 175 of whom had complete body autopsies.
Using a quantitative analysis of atherosclerosis in the aorta, heart and intracranial vessels, we found no relationship between the degree of atherosclerosis in any of these systems and the degree of Alzheimer’s type brain pathology. However, we found that the presence of intracranial but not coronary or aortic atherosclerosis significantly increased the odds of dementia, independent of cerebral infarction. Given the large number of individuals with intracranial atherosclerosis in this cohort (136/200), the population attributable risk of dementia related to intracranial atherosclerosis (independent of infarction) is substantial and potentially reversible.
Atherosclerosis of the intracranial arteries is an independent and important risk factor for dementia, suggesting potentially reversible pathways unrelated to Alzheimer’s pathology and stroke through which vascular changes may influence dementia risk.
BACKGROUND—A genetic association between the
presenilin 1 (PS-1) intronic polymorphism and sporadic Alzheimer's
disease has been a matter of controversy. Recent findings have
suggested that the PS-1 polymorphism is not associated with
Alzheimer's disease or amyloid β-protein (Aβ) deposition in brains
from patients with Alzheimer's disease.
OBJECTIVES—To elucidate the influence of the PS-1
polymorphism on Alzheimer type neuropathological changes and the
development of Alzheimer's disease, the relation between the PS-1
polymorphism and quantitative severity of Alzheimer type
neuropathological changes in the brains from patients with Alzheimer's
disease and non-demented subjects was studied.
METHODS—The PS-1 and apolipoprotein E
(ApoE) genotypes, were examined, together with the densities of the
senile plaques, senile plaques with dystrophic neurites, and
neurofibrillary tangles in the brains from 36 postmortem confirmed
patients with sporadic Alzheimer's disease and 86 non-demented
subjects. Association of the PS-1 polymorphism with sporadic
Alzheimer's disease and ages at onset and duration of illness in
Alzheimer's disease was also examined.
RESULTS—The PS-1 polymorphism was not associated
with the senile plaques, senile plaques with dystrophic neurites, or
neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease or non-demented
subjects. There was no association of the PS-1 intronic polymorphism
with Alzheimer's disease, ages at onset, or durations of illness in
Alzheimer's disease. The results remained non-significant even when
the PS-1 genotype groups were divided into the subgroups withdifferent ApoE ε4 status.
CONCLUSIONS—The PS-1 intronic polymorphism
does not itself have a direct causal role in the formation of Alzheimer
type neuropathological changes or in the development of sporadic
Neuropathological examination of both individuals in a monozygotic (MZ) twin pair with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is rare, especially in the molecular genetic era. We had the opportunity to assess the concordance and discordance of clinical presentation and neuropathology in three MZ twin pairs with AD.
The MZ twins were identified and characterised by the University of Washington Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. We reviewed the available clinical and neuropathological records for all six cases looking specifically for concordance and discordance of clinical phenotype, neuritic amyloid plaques (NP), neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) and Lewy related pathology (LRP).
Discordance in age of onset for developing AD in the MZ twins varied from 4 to 18 years. Clinical presentations also differed between twins. One twin presented with a dementia with Lewy Body clinical syndrome while the other presented with typical clinical AD. Neuropathology within the MZ twin pairs was concordant for NP and NFT, regardless of duration of disease, and was discordant for LRP. This difference was most marked in the late onset AD twin pair. One pair was found to have a mutation in presenilin‐1 (PS1) (A79V) with remarkably late onset in a family member.
MZ twins with AD can vary considerably in age of onset, presentation and disease duration. The concordance of NP and NFT pathological change and the discordance of LRP support the concept that, in AD, the former are primarily under genetic control whereas the latter (LRP) is more influenced by disease duration and environmental factors. The A79V mutation in PS1 can be associated with very late onset of dementia.
The global prevalence of dementia is estimated to be as high as 24 million, and is predicted to double every 20 years through to 2040, leading to a costly burden of disease. Alzheimer disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia and is characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive function, which typically begins with deterioration in memory. Before death, individuals with this disorder have usually become dependent on caregivers. The neuropathological hallmarks of the AD brain are diffuse and neuritic extracellular amyloid plaques—which are frequently surrounded by dystrophic neurites—and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles. These hallmark pathologies are often accompanied by the presence of reactive microgliosis and the loss of neurons, white matter and synapses. The etiological mechanisms underlying the neuropathological changes in AD remain unclear, but are probably affected by both environmental and genetic factors. Here, we provide an overview of the criteria used in the diagnosis of AD, highlighting how this disease is related to, but distinct from, normal aging. We also summarize current information relating to AD prevalence, incidence and risk factors, and review the biomarkers that may be used for risk assessment and in diagnosis.
Ventricular cerebrospinal fluid (vCSF) obtained at autopsy from 230 participants in the Religious Orders Study was analyzed for alpha tocopherol (αT, vitamin E) and gamma tocopherol (γT) in relation to brain tissue neuropathological diagnoses (NIA-Reagan criteria); neuritic plaque density and neurofibrillary tangle state (Braak stage); and cognitive function proximate to death. Neither vCSF αT nor γT was related to the pathological diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, but vCSF αT concentration was inversely related to neuritic plaque density (β = −0.21, SE = 0.105, p = 0.04) in regression models adjusted for age, gender, education, and APOE-4. Ventricular CSF αT concentration was positively associated with perceptual speed (β = 0.27, SE = 0.116, p = 0.02) whereas the γT/αT ratio was negatively associated with episodic memory (β = −0.037, SE = 0.017, p = 0.04). Only vCSF αT, but not γT, was correlated with postmortem interval (PMI). Adjustment for PMI had no effect on significance of associations between αT and perceptual speed or γT/αT and episodic memory, but after this adjustment the αT concentration was no longer significantly associated with neuritic plaques. These data suggest that vCSF αT, but not γT, is weakly associated with less Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology, specifically neuritic plaques, and correlates with better performance on tests of perceptual speed.
Alzheimer’s disease; cerebrospinal fluid; Religious Orders Study; tocopherol; vitamin E
Although β-amyloid (Aβ) plaques and tau neurofibrillary tangles are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) neuropathology, loss of synapses is considered the best correlate of cognitive decline in AD, rather than plaques or tangles. How pathological Aβ and tau aggregation relate to each other and to alterations in synapses remains unclear. Since aberrant tau phosphorylation occurs in amyloid precursor protein (APP) Swedish mutant transgenic mice, and since neurofibrillary tangles develop in triple transgenic mice harboring mutations in APP, tau and presenilin 1, we utilized these well-characterized mouse models to explore the relation between Aβ and tau pathologies. We now report that pathological accumulation of Aβ and hyperphosphorylation of tau develop concomitantly within synaptic terminals.
amyloid; tau; synapse; Alzheimer’s disease; neuropathology; electron microscopy; endosomes; microtubules; hippocampus
Senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are major neuropathological features of Alzheimer's Disease (AD), however neuronal loss is the alteration that best correlates with cognitive impairment in AD patients. Underlying neurotoxic mechanisms are not completely understood although specific neurotransmission deficiencies have been observed in AD patients and, in animal models, cholinergic and noradrenergic denervation may increase amyloid-beta deposition and tau phosphorylation in denervated areas. On the other hand brainstem neurodegeneration has been suggested as an initial event in AD, and serotonergic dysfunction, as well as reductions in raphe neurones density, have been reported in AD patients. In this study we addressed whether specific serotonergic denervation, by administering 5,7-dihydroxitriptamine (5,7-DHT) in the raphe nuclei, could also worsen central pathology in APPswe/PS1dE9 mice or interfere with learning and memory activities. In our hands specific serotonergic denervation increased tau phosphorylation in denervated cortex, without affecting amyloid-beta (Aβ) pathology. We also observed that APPswe/PS1dE9 mice lesioned with 5,7-DHT were impaired in the Morris water maze test, supporting a synergistic effect of the serotonergic denervation and the presence of APP/PS1 transgenes on learning and memory impairment. Altogether our data suggest that serotonergic denervation may interfere with some pathological aspects observed in AD, including tau phosphorylation or cognitive impairment, without affecting Aβ pathology, supporting a differential role of specific neurotransmitter systems in AD.
There is uncertainty regarding the association of cognitive decline in Alzheimer disease (AD) with classic histopathologic features—neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and “neuritic” amyloid plaques (NPs). This uncertainty fuels doubts about the diagnostic importance of NFTs and NPs and leads to confusion regarding hypotheses of AD pathogenesis. Three hundred ninety subjects who underwent longitudinal premortem clinical workup and postmortem quantitative neuropathologic assessment served as the group to address this issue. Subjects with concomitant brain disease(s) were analyzed independently to more accurately assess the contribution of distinct pathologies to cognitive decline. More than 60% of patients of all age groups had important non-AD brain pathologies. However, subjects without superimposed brain diseases showed strong correlations between AD-type pathology counts (NFTs > NPs) and premortem Mini-Mental State Examination scores. The observed correlation was stronger in isocortex than in allocortex and was maintained across age groups including patients older than 90 years. A theoretical model is proposed in which our results are interpreted to support the “amyloid cascade hypothesis” of AD pathogenesis. Our data show that there are many important contributory causes to cognitive decline in older persons. However, NFTs and NPs should not be dismissed as irrelevant in AD based on clinicopathologic correlation.
Alzheimer disease; Amyloid; Cerebrovascular; Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs); Plaques