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1.  Prevalence of Hippocampal Sclerosis in a Clinicopathologically Characterized Cohort 
Hippocampal sclerosis (HS) is a neuropathological finding that frequently occurs with pathologies, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Prevalence estimates of HS in autopsy-confirmed dementia samples have varied between 0.4% and 24.5%. However, the prevalence of HS within other pathologic groups has not been well characterized.
Utilizing a sample of 910 prospectively followed and clinicopathologically confirmed dementia cases, we determined the prevalence of HS among the sample and within specific pathologic groups. HS prevalence of the sample was compared to reported HS prevalence rates in other autopsy-confirmed dementia samples.
The age range of the sample was 43 to 106 years, with a mean of 81.49±8.45. Of the 910 cases, 505 were male and 405 were female. For the entire sample, the average educational level was 14.59±2.65years. Of the 910 individuals, 47 (5.16%) cases had HS pathology present at autopsy. Among the 561 AD cases, 26 (4.43%) had HS pathology present. The frontotemporal dementia (FTD)/Pick's group had the highest percentage of cases with HS pathology (23.08%) followed by primary progressive aphasia (PPA) (16.67%) and Parkinson's disease with dementia (PDD) (5.34%). The HS prevalence rate of this study was not significantly different from all but 2 studies.
The prevalence of HS pathology in this sample of autopsy-confirmed dementia cases was similar to other reported HS prevalence rates. This study is the first to report the presence of HS pathology in PDD cases.
PMCID: PMC4196704  PMID: 25324686
hippocampal sclerosis; dementia; neuropathology; TDP-43; Alzheimer's disease; Parkinson's disease
2.  Recent Perspectives on APP, Secretases, Endosomal Pathways and How they Influence Alzheimer’s Related Pathological Changes in Down Syndrome 
Down syndrome is one of the most common genetic conditions occurring in one in 700 live births. The trisomy of chromosome 21 causes over-expression of APP which in turn is indicated in the increased production of Aβ associated with AD. This makes DS the most common presenile form of AD exceeding PS1 and PS2 FAD. Since a majority of DS individuals develop dementia, it is important to examine whether DS and sporadic AD share common features, for example, to anticipate shared treatments in the future. Here we explore commonalities and differences for secretases and endosomal pathways in DS and AD.
PMCID: PMC4000700  PMID: 24782952
Down syndrome; Trisomy; Over-expression
3.  Positron Emission Tomography and Neuropathologic Estimates of Fibrillar Amyloid-β in a Patient With Down Syndrome and Alzheimer Disease 
Archives of Neurology  2011;68(11):1461-1466.
Down syndrome appears to be associated with a virtually certain risk of fibrillar amyloid-β (Aβ) pathology by the age of 40 and a very high risk of dementia at older ages. The positron emission tomography (PET) ligand florbetapir F18 has been shown to characterize fibrillar Aβ in the living human brain and to provide a close correlation with subsequent Aβ neuropathology in individuals proximate to and after the end of life. The extent to which the most frequently used PET ligands can be used to detect fibrillar Aβ in patients with Down syndrome remains to be determined.
To characterize PET estimates of fibrillar Aβ burden in a Down syndrome patient very close to the end of life and to compare them with neuropathologic assessment made after his death.
With the family’s informed consent, florbetapir PET was used to study a 55-year-old Down syndrome patient with Alzheimer disease near the end of life; his brain was donated for neuropathologic assessment when he died 14 days later. Visual ratings of cerebral florbetapir uptake were performed by trained readers who were masked to the patient’s diagnosis as part of a larger study, and an automated algorithm was used to characterize regional-to-cerebellar standard uptake value ratios in 6 cerebral regions of interest. Neuropathologic assessments were performed masked to the patient’s diagnosis or PET measurements.
Visual ratings and automated analyses of the PET image revealed a heavy fibrillar Aβ burden in cortical, striatal, and thalamic regions, similar to that reported for patients with late-onset Alzheimer disease. This matched neuropathologic findings of frequent neuritic and diffuse plaques, as well as frequent amyloid angiopathy, except for neuropathologically demonstrated frequent cerebellar diffuse plaques and amyloid angiopathy that were not detected by the PET scan.
Florbetapir PET can be used to detect increased cerebral-to-cerebellar fibrillar Aβ burden in a Down syndrome patient with Alzheimer disease, even in the presence of frequent amyloid angiopathy and diffuse plaques in the cerebellum. Additional studies are needed to determine the extent to which PET could be used to detect and to track fibrillar Aβ and to evaluate investigational Aβ-modifying treatments in the presymptomatic and symptomatic stages of Alzheimer disease.
PMCID: PMC3346179  PMID: 22084131
4.  Frequency of Alzheimer's Disease Pathology at Autopsy in Patients with Clinical Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus 
Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is considered potentially treatable with the placement of a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt. Yet, the procedure has had variable success, particularly with respect to improving the cognitive impairment in NPH. The presence of neurologic co-morbidities, particularly Alzheimer's Disease (AD), may contribute to shunt responsiveness. Uncovering the extent to which AD and NPH co-occur has implications for diagnosis and treatment of NPH. Autopsy studies of patients with NPH during life would elucidate the frequency of such co-morbidities.
We conducted a search of the Sun Health Research Institute Brain Donation Program database between 1/1/1997 and 4/1/09 to identify all cases with neuropathologic evidence of dementia as well as those cases of clinically diagnosed NPH. We reviewed the medical records and brain findings of each NPH case.
Of the 761 cases autopsied over the study interval, 563 cases were found to have neuropathological evidence meeting criteria for a dementing illness. AD was found exclusively in 313/563 (56%) cases with 94/563 cases having a secondary diagnosis of dementia.
We identified 9/761 cases with a clinical diagnosis of NPH, all nine cases were among the 563 cases with neuropathology of dementing illness at autopsy, representing 1.6% (9/563). Upon review of brain autopsy reports, 8/9 (89%) cases were found to have AD and 1/9 (11%) had progressive supranuclear palsy. Review of the medical records of the nine NPH cases revealed the following clinical co-morbidities: 5/9 with AD; 1/9 with Parkinson's Disease (PD); 1/9 with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI); 1/9 with seizure disorder.
Given the findings of our study, we support the AD-NPH theory and posit that AD is a common pathological co-morbidity in the setting of NPH and may preclude cognitive improvement post-shunt placement. This may have influence on selection of cases for shunting in the future.
PMCID: PMC3166980  PMID: 21723206
normal pressure hydrocephalus; Alzheimer's disease; cerebrospinal fluid shunt; autopsy study; dementia
5.  PF-04494700, an Oral Inhibitor of Receptor For Advanced Glycation End Products (RAGE), in Alzheimer’s disease 
To evaluate the safety and tolerability of PF-04494700, an oral Inhibitor of receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE), in subjects with mild-to-moderate dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.
Subjects 50 years and older who met NINCDS-ADRDA criteria for AD with an MMSE score between 12–26 (inclusive) were randomized to 10-weeks of double-blind treatment with either a 10 mg “low dose” of PF-04494700 (after a 6-day loading dose of 30 mg/d to); or a 20 mg “high dose” of PF-04494700 (after a loading dose of 60 mg/d); or placebo. Safety measures included adverse events, laboratory tests, vital signs, and 12-lead ECG.
27 subjects received PF-04494700 30/10 mg (female, 63%; mean age, 74.6 years; mean MMSE, 21.1), 28 subjects received PF-04494700 60/20 mg (female, 57%; mean age, 76.6 years; mean MMSE, 21.6), and 12 subjects received placebo (female, 67%; mean age, 74.1 years; mean MMSE, 19.2). A higher proportion of subjects completed 10 weeks of double-blind treatment on both the “low dose” regimen of PF-04494700 (88.9%) and the “high dose” regimen (85.7%) than completed on placebo (66.7%). Discontinuation due to adverse events, and incidence of severe adverse events, respectively, were lower on the “low dose” regimen (7.4%,11.1%) and the “high dose” regimen (3.6%,10.7%) compared to placebo (25.0%,16.7%). There were no clinically meaningful differences in vital signs, laboratory test results, or mean ECG parameters in subjects treated with PF-04494700. PF-04494700 had no consistent effect on plasma levels of Aβ, inflammatory biomarkers, or secondary cognitive outcomes.
Ten weeks of treatment with PF-04494700 was safe and well-tolerated in subjects with mild-to-moderate AD, indicating the feasibility of a larger long-term efficacy trial.
PMCID: PMC3346183  PMID: 21192237
Alzheimer’s disease; randomized clinical trial; RAGE
6.  Probable Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease in an Apolipoprotein E2 Homozygote 
To describe a case of early-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) in an apolipoprotein (Apo) ∊2/∊2 homozygote.
Apo ∊2/∊2 is the rarest of the ApoE genotypes, representing only 1.4% of the population. Cognitive decline in ApoE ∊2 homozygotes has rarely been reported. Case Report/Methods: We report a 58-year-old Apo ∊2/∊2 female who meets clinical criteria for probable AD as confirmed by neuropsychological testing, positron emission/computed tomography scan, CSF analysis and genetic screening for known mutations.
The clinical course is typical of AD, with progressive cognitive and functional decline.
Clinically confirmed early-onset AD is atypical in ApoE2 homozygotes but can occur.
PMCID: PMC2992638  PMID: 20975270
Alzheimer's disease; Apolipoprotein E2; Homozygote; Positron emission tomography scan; Neuropsychological assessment; Cerebrospinal fluid analysis
7.  The Alzheimer’s Questionnaire: A Proof of Concept Study for a New Informant-Based Dementia Assessment 
Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD  2010;22(3):1015-1021.
The aim of this pilot study is to determine the feasibility and clinical utility of a brief, informant-based screening questionnaire for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that can be administered in a primary care setting. The Alzheimer’s Questionnaire (AQ) was administered to the informants of 188 patients in 3 dementia clinics (50 cognitively normal, 69 mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 69 AD). Total score for the AQ is based upon the sum of clinical symptom items in which the informant responds as being present. Clinical symptoms which are known to be highly predictive of the clinical AD diagnosis are given greater weight in the total AQ score. The mean time of administration of the AQ was 2.6 ± 0.6 minutes. Sensitivity and specificity were found to be high for detecting both AD (98.55, 96.00) and MCI (86.96, 94.00) with ROC curves yielding AUC values of 0.99 and 0.95, respectively. This pilot study indicates that the AQ is a brief, sensitive measure for detecting both MCI and AD and could be easily implemented in a primary care setting.
PMCID: PMC3207359  PMID: 20930293
Alzheimer’s disease; instrument; questionnaire; primary care
8.  A Cellular Model of Amyloid Precursor Protein Processing and Amyloid-β Peptide Production 
A hallmark pathologic feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is accumulation of neuritic senile plaques in the brain parenchyma. Neurotoxic plaque cores are composed predominantly of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides of 40 and 42 amino acids in length, formed by sequential cleavage of amyloid precursor protein (APP) by β-, and γ-secretases. There is great interest in approaches to modulate Aβ peptide production and develop therapeutic interventions to reduce Aβ levels to halt or slow the progression of neurodegeneration.
New Method
We characterized and present the BE(2)-M17 human neuroblastoma cell line as a novel in vitro model of the APP-cleavage cascade to support future 1) functional studies of molecular regulators in Aβ production, and 2) high-throughput screening assays of new pharmacotherapeutics.
In BE(2)-M17 cells, both RNA (i.e., RT-PCR, RNA Sequencing) and protein analyses (i.e., Western blots, ELISA), show endogenous expression of critical components of the amyloidogenic pathway, APP-cleavage intermediates CTF83 and CTF99, and final cleavage products Aβ40 and Aβ42. We further report effects of retinoic acid-mediated differentiation on morphology and gene expression in this cell line.
Comparison with Existing Method(s)
In contrast to primary isolates or other cell lines reported in current literature, BE(2)-M17 not only sustains baseline expression of the full contingent of APP-processing components, but also remains stably adherent during culture, facilitating experimental manipulations.
Our evidence supports the use of BE(2)-M17 as a novel, human, cell-based model of the APP processing pathway that offers a potential streamlined approach to dissect molecular functions of endogenous regulatory pathways, and perform mechanistic studies to identify modulators of Aβ production.
PMCID: PMC3931259  PMID: 24333289
Alzheimer’s; BE(2)-M17; amyloid-beta; in vitro; secretase; TNF
10.  Possible Alzheimer’s Disease in an Apolipoprotein E2 Homozygote 
The objective of this study was to describe a case of Alzheimer’s disease in an ApoE ε2/ε2 homozygote. ApoE ε2/ε2 is the rarest of the apolipoprotein E genotypes, representing only 1.4% of the population. There is only one case reported in the literature of a nonagenarian with minimal cognitive changes whose brain showed AD pathology on postmortem study. Here we report an 87-year-old ApoE ε2/ε2 female who meets clinical criteria for Alzheimer’s disease, with confirmation from neuropsychological testing and PET scan. Clinical course is typical for Alzheimer’s disease with decline on the Mini-Mental Status Examination from a score of 25 to 19 over 3.5 years. The patient is currently treated with donepezil and memantine. In conclusion, a clinically confirmed case of Alzheimer’s disease is rare in Apo E2 homozygotes but can occur.
PMCID: PMC2954753  PMID: 19158419
Alzheimer’s disease; apolipoprotein E2; homozygote; PET scan
11.  Parkinson's disease with dementia: comparing patients with and without Alzheimer pathology 
Subjects with Parkinson's disease (PD) frequently develop dementia with greater than one-third meeting neuropathologic diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's disease (AD). The objective is to identify clinical and neuropathological differences between PDD (PD with dementia) subjects, with and without coexistent AD pathology. Neuropathologic examination was available on subjects diagnosed by clinicopathologic criteria with PDD-AD (N = 23) and PDD+AD (N = 28). A small subset of subjects with PDD-AD and PDD+AD had received at least one standardized neuropsychological assessment. PDD+AD subjects were significantly older at age of PD onset and death, progressed to onset of dementia in less time, and had a shorter duration of PD symptoms prior to the onset of dementia. Education, responsiveness of L-Dopa and dopaminergic medications, presence of cognitive fluctuations and hallucinations, mean MMSE, GDS, FAST and UPDRS scores did not differ significantly between the two groups. The PDD+AD group had significantly greater total plaques, neuritic plaques, total tangles, and Braak stages compared to PDD-AD. This study suggests that it is difficult to distinguish PDD+AD and PDD-AD on the basis of movement, clinical, and neuropsychological assessment. PDD-AD and PDD+AD have similar degrees of dementia and approximately half of PDD subjects have enough AD pathology to attain a neuropathological diagnosis of AD. PDD can develop in the absence of significant Alzheimer pathology.
PMCID: PMC2760034  PMID: 19812474
Parkinson' disease with dementia; Alzheimer's Disease; Dementia with Lewy Bodies; assessment of dementia
12.  Correlation of Clinical Features with Argyrophilic Grains at Autopsy 
Argyrophilic grains (AGs) are a pathologic feature found in association with neurodegenerative disease. Some have suggested that these features may occur as a distinctive condition. We reviewed 80 subjects from our tissue bank with pathologically confirmed AGs and identified their clinical features. We compared these subjects' features to the features of subjects with matched clinical diagnoses but without AGs. Subjects with AGs represented 21.7% of the entire autopsy sample from 1999 through 2005 (80/367). Of AD subjects, 43 /233 had AGs (18.4% of AD subjects); 11 /42 PD-D subjects had AGs (26.1% of PDD subjects); 2 / 9 DLB subjects had AGs (22.2% of DLB subjects); 4 /15 MCI subjects had AGs (26.7% of MCI subjects); and 20 /68 cognitively normal subjects had AGs (29.4% of NC). Subjects with AGs tended to be older but only significantly so in AD. Many co-morbid non-neurological health conditions were seen in cases of AGs without any single predilection emerging. AGs occur in approximately 22% of the entire autopsy cohort and likely are associated with advanced age. No distinctive antemortem clinical features were overrepresented in the AG cases. AGs can occur with or without neurodegenerative conditions and can occur in the absence of significant cognitive decline. AGs are not clearly associated with any single co-morbid health condition.
PMCID: PMC2760041  PMID: 19812464
Argyrophilic grains; dementia; neurodegeneration; neuropathology
13.  Neuropathologic Heterogeneity Does Not Impair Florbetapir-PET Postmortem Correlates 
Neuropathologic heterogeneity is often present within Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We sought to determine if amyloid imaging measures of AD are affected by concurrent pathologies. Thirty-eight clinicopathologically-defined AD and 17 non-demented cases (ND) with quantitative florbetapir F-18 (18F-AV-45) PET imaging during life and histological β-amyloid quantification and neuropathologic examination were assessed. AD cases were divided on the basis of concurrent pathologies, including those with Lewy bodies (N=21), white matter rarefaction (N=27), severe cerebral amyloid angiopathy (N=11), argyrophilic grains (N=5) and TDP-43 inclusions (N=18). Many cases exhibited more than one type of concurrent pathology. The ratio of cortical to cerebellar amyloid imaging signal (SUVr) and immunohistochemical β-amyloid load were analyzed in six cortical regions of interest. All AD subgroups had strong and significant correlations between SUVr and histological β-amyloid measures (p values <0.001). All AD subgroups had significantly greater amyloid measures compared to ND, and mean amyloid measures did not significantly differ between AD subgroups. When comparing AD cases with and without each pathology, AD cases with Lewy bodies had significantly decreased SUVr measures compared to AD cases without (p = 0.002); there were no other paired comparison differences. These findings indicate florbetapir-PET imaging is not confounded by neuropathological heterogeneity within AD.
PMCID: PMC4037918  PMID: 24335535
argyrophilic grains; autopsy; cerebral amyloid angiopathy; Lewy bodies; plaques; TDP-43; vascular dementia; white matter; leuko-araiosis
14.  Neuropathological and biochemical assessments of an Alzheimer’s disease patient treated with the γ-secretase inhibitor semagacestat 
Amyloid deposition has been implicated as the key determinant of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathogenesis. Interventions to antagonize amyloid accumulation and mitigate dementia are now under active investigation. We conducted a combined clinical, biochemical and neuropathological assessment of a participant in a clinical trial of the γ-secretase inhibitor, semagacestat. This patient received a daily oral dose of 140 mg of semagacestat for approximately 76 weeks. Levels of brain amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides were quantified using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Western blot/scanning densitometry was performed to reveal BACE1, presenilin1, amyloid precursor protein (APP) and its proteolysis-produced C-terminal peptides APP-CT99 and APP-CT83 as well as several γ-secretase substrates. To serve as a frame of reference, the ELISA and Western analyses were performed in parallel on samples from neuropathologically confirmed non-demented control (NDC) and AD subjects who did not receive semagacestat. Neuropathology findings confirmed a diagnosis of AD with frequent amyloid deposits and neurofibrillary tangles in most areas of the cortex and subcortical nuclei as well as cerebellar amyloid plaques. Mean levels of Tris-soluble Aβ40 and glass-distilled formic acid (GDFA)/guanidine hydrochloride (GHCl)-extractable Aβ40 in the frontal lobe and GDFA/GHCl-soluble Aβ40 in the temporal lobe were increased 4.2, 9.5 and 7.7-fold, respectively, in the semagacestat-treated subject compared to those observed in the non-treated AD group. In addition, GDFA/GHCl-extracted Aβ42 was increased 2-fold in the temporal lobe relative to non-treated AD cases. No major changes in APP, β- and γ-secretase and CT99/CT83 were observed between the semagacestat-treated subject compared to either NDC or AD cases. Furthermore, the levels of γ-secretase substrates in the semagacestat-treated subject and the reference groups were also similar. Interestingly, there were significant alterations in the levels of several γ-secretase substrates between the NDC and non-treated AD subjects. This is the first reported case study of an individual enrolled in the semagacestat clinical trial. The subject of this study remained alive for ~7 months after treatment termination, therefore it is difficult to conclude whether the outcomes observed represent a consequence of semagacestat therapy. Additional evaluations of trial participants, including several who expired during the course of treatment, may provide vital clarification regarding the impacts and aftermath of γ-secretase inhibition.
PMCID: PMC4299724  PMID: 25628963
Alzheimer’s disease; semagacestat immunotherapy; Alzheimer’s clinical trial; γ-secretase; γ-secretase inhibitors; γ-secretase substrates; amyloid-β
15.  Autonomic complaints in patients with Restless Leg Syndrome 
Sleep medicine  2013;14(12):1413-1416.
Data regarding autonomic function in restless legs syndrome (RLS) is limited to heart rate and blood pressure changes in cases having periodic limb movements (PLMS).
We compared autonomic symptoms of 49 subjects with RLS vs. 291 Controls using the SCOPA-Autonomic questionnaire (23 items in six domains scored 0–3). The total score and domain scores were transformed to 0 to 100 points. Subjects with neurodegenerative disorders (i.e. dementia, parkinsonism) were excluded.
The RLS group was younger (mean±SD 77.9 ± 8.0 vs. 80.5 ± 7.9 yrs, p=.03) and had more women (84% vs. 69%, p=.04). The mean SCOPA-Aut Total score was higher in the RLS group compared with Controls (20 ± 11 vs. 16 ± 9, p= .005). Additionally the RLS group had abnormalities in GI, cardiovascular, and pupillomotor domains. When comparing the percentage of subjects with any complaint on individual questions (score of ≥ 1) the RLS group had a greater number of subjects with sialorrhea, constipation, early abdominal fullness, lightheadedness when standing, and heat intolerance.
Autonomic complaints, especially GI, cardiovascular, and oversensitivity to light, are significantly increased in subjects with RLS. Causes for autonomic dysfunction in RLS require further investigation.
PMCID: PMC4105217  PMID: 24152795
Restless Leg Syndrome; Autonomic symptoms
16.  Positive Florbetapir PET Amyloid Imaging in a Subject with Frequent Cortical Neuritic Plaques and Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration with TDP43-Positive Inclusions 
Abnormal neuronal accumulation and modification of TAR DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43) have recently been discovered to be defining histopathological features of particular subtypes of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and are also common in aging, particularly coexisting with hippocampal sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. This case report describes a 72 year old Hispanic male with no family history of neurological disease, who presented at age 59 with obsessive behavior, anxiety, agitation and dysphasia. Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging using the amyloid ligand 18F florbetapir (Amyvid) was positive. Postmortem examination revealed frequent diffuse and neuritic amyloid plaques throughout the cerebral cortex, thalamus and striatum, Braak stage II neurofibrillary degeneration and frequent frontal and temporal cortex TDP-43-positive neurites with rare nuclear inclusions. The case is unusual and instructive because of the co-existence of frequent cortical and diencephalic amyloid plaques with extensive TDP-43-positive histopathology in the setting of early-onset dementia and because it demonstrates that a positive cortical amyloid imaging signal in a subject with dementia does not necessarily establish that AD is the sole cause.
PMCID: PMC4167919  PMID: 24927705
Alzheimer's disease; frontotemporal dementia; neurofibrillary degeneration; neuritic amyloid plaques
17.  Biochemical Assessment of Precuneus and Posterior Cingulate Gyrus in the Context of Brain Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105784.
Defining the biochemical alterations that occur in the brain during “normal” aging is an important part of understanding the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases and of distinguishing pathological conditions from aging-associated changes. Three groups were selected based on age and on having no evidence of neurological or significant neurodegenerative disease: 1) young adult individuals, average age 26 years (n = 9); 2) middle-aged subjects, average age 59 years (n = 5); 3) oldest-old individuals, average age 93 years (n = 6). Using ELISA and Western blotting methods, we quantified and compared the levels of several key molecules associated with neurodegenerative disease in the precuneus and posterior cingulate gyrus, two brain regions known to exhibit early imaging alterations during the course of Alzheimer’s disease. Our experiments revealed that the bioindicators of emerging brain pathology remained steady or decreased with advancing age. One exception was S100B, which significantly increased with age. Along the process of aging, neurofibrillary tangle deposition increased, even in the absence of amyloid deposition, suggesting the presence of amyloid plaques is not obligatory for their development and that limited tangle density is a part of normal aging. Our study complements a previous assessment of neuropathology in oldest-old subjects, and within the limitations of the small number of individuals involved in the present investigation, it adds valuable information to the molecular and structural heterogeneity observed along the course of aging and dementia. This work underscores the need to examine through direct observation how the processes of amyloid deposition unfold or change prior to the earliest phases of dementia emergence.
PMCID: PMC4148328  PMID: 25166759
18.  BACE1 Levels by APOE Genotype in Non-Demented and Alzheimer’s Post-Mortem Brains 
Current Alzheimer research  2013;10(3):309-315.
The APOE genotype is a known susceptibility factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). It is apparent that the presence of the APOE ε4 allele increases the risk for developing AD, lowers the age of onset in AD, and may influence the pathological burden seen in AD. In this study, we asked whether BACE1 levels differ by APOE genotype in the AD and non-demented (ND) brain. We isolated mid-frontal cortex (MFC) and mid-temporal cortex (MTC) from postmortem ND and AD subjects that were APOE ε3/3, ε3/4, ε4/4 carriers. All AD subjects met NINDS-ADRDA and NIA-Reagan criteria for a diagnosis of AD. The MFC and MTC were homogenized and the lysates underwent ELISA and Western blotting for BACE1. The ELISA revealed that total BACE1 levels were lower in the MFC of AD compared to ND subjects. Furthermore, in APOE ε4 carriers BACE1 levels were lower than ε3/3 carriers in the ND frontal cortex. No difference in BACE1 levels was observed in AD MFC and in ND and AD MTC tissues. The ELISA results were confirmed by Western blotting. Our data suggest that brain BACEl levels may be influenced by the apolipoprotein E genotype before the onset of AD, providing an alternative explanation for the lower amyloid beta 42 levels in CSF in ND and AD subjects.
PMCID: PMC4104947  PMID: 23036023
Alzheimer’s disease; APOE; BACE1; Brain; ELISA; Frontal cortex
19.  Type 2 diabetes is associated with increased Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology in ApoE ε4 Carriers 
Current Alzheimer research  2013;10(6):654-659.
Past studies of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology association with diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM2) have provided conflicting results. While several studies indicate that subjects with comorbid AD and DM2 have less AD pathology, others have found no significant differences in AD pathology between the two groups. Other studies have indicated that individuals with AD and DM2 have significantly greater neuropathology than AD individuals who do not have DM2. Additional research has demonstrated that ApoE ε4 carriers with AD and DM2 have significantly greater pathology than ApoE ε4 non-carriers.
Data on clinically and pathologically diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease (NINDS-ADRDA clinically and NIA Reagan intermediate or high pathologically) with DM2 (n= 40) and those without DM2 (n= 322) from the Banner Sun Health Research Institute Brain and Body Donation Program were obtained for this study. Plaque and tangle scores from the frontal, parietal, temporal, entorhinal and hippocampal regions were compared between the DM2+ and DM2 − groups. In addition, total plaque count, total tangle count, and Braak scores were also compared between groups. Similar analyses were carried out to discern differences between ApoE ε4 carriers and non-carriers with AD and DM2.
There were no significant differences in plaque and tangle pathology between DM2+ and DM2 − groups. Logistic regression analyses, which accounted for the effects of ApoE ε4 carrier status and age at death, found no association between total plaque [OR 1.05 (0.87, 1.27), p = .60] or total tangle [OR 0.97 (0.89, 1.07) p = .58] counts and DM2 status. Chi-square analysis found no significant association between ApoE ε4 carrier status and DM2 status [χ2 = 0.30 (df = 1), p = .58]. Within the DM2+ group, ApoE ε4 carriers had significantly greater plaque and tangle pathology when compared to DM2+ ApoE ε4 non-carriers.
Overall, the presence of DM2 does not affect plaque and tangle burden in a sample of clinically and pathologically confirmed AD cases. Among AD individuals with DM2, those who are ApoE ε4 carriers had significantly greater neuropathology than ApoE ε4 non-carriers. The presence of ApoE ε4 appears to exacerbate AD neuropathology in the presence of DM2.
PMCID: PMC4105218  PMID: 23627755
20.  Extrapyramidal signs by dementia severity in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) are common etiologies of dementia with overlapping clinical features. Our objective was to determine which extrapyramidal signs (EPS) are most helpful in identifying DLB. We analyzed data from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center, including demographics, Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) scores, Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE) scores, and clinical diagnosis. The subjects were divided into three groups: AD, DLB or LBV (Lewy body variant). The UPDRS motor scores were totaled and analyzed within and across MMSE strata using regression techniques. Next, we divided UPDRS subscores into 9 EPS, dichotomized as either present or absent. Logistic regression analysis was used to compare each of the EPS in the AD and LB (DLB+LBV) groups. DLB subjects (n=130) were more likely to be male, younger, and have higher MMSE scores (p<0.001) than AD (n=1,826) or LBV (n=105) subjects. Differences were found for total UPDRS score and number of EPS (p<0.001), after controlling for age, gender and MMSE. Logistic regression models demonstrated that masked facies best differentiated AD from LB (OR=6.5, p<0.001, 95% CI: 3.8–11.1). If these findings are neuropathologically validated, then the presence of specific EPS may help clinicians better differentiate AD and DLB.
PMCID: PMC3562426  PMID: 23023095
21.  Neurochemical Profile of Dementia Pugilistica 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2013;30(11):981-997.
Dementia pugilistica (DP), a suite of neuropathological and cognitive function declines after chronic traumatic brain injury (TBI), is present in approximately 20% of retired boxers. Epidemiological studies indicate TBI is a risk factor for neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer disease (AD) and Parkinson disease (PD). Some biochemical alterations observed in AD and PD may be recapitulated in DP and other TBI persons. In this report, we investigate long-term biochemical changes in the brains of former boxers with neuropathologically confirmed DP. Our experiments revealed biochemical and cellular alterations in DP that are complementary to and extend information already provided by histological methods. ELISA and one-dimensional and two dimensional Western blot techniques revealed differential expression of select molecules between three patients with DP and three age-matched non-demented control (NDC) persons without a history of TBI. Structural changes such as disturbances in the expression and processing of glial fibrillary acidic protein, tau, and α-synuclein were evident. The levels of the Aβ–degrading enzyme neprilysin were reduced in the patients with DP. Amyloid-β levels were elevated in the DP participant with the concomitant diagnosis of AD. In addition, the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and the axonal transport proteins kinesin and dynein were substantially decreased in DP relative to NDC participants. Traumatic brain injury is a risk factor for dementia development, and our findings are consistent with permanent structural and functional damage in the cerebral cortex and white matter of boxers. Understanding the precise threshold of damage needed for the induction of pathology in DP and TBI is vital.
PMCID: PMC3684215  PMID: 23268705
adult brain injury; axonal injury; immunoblots; neurodegenerative disorders; traumatic brain injury
22.  Comparative Analysis of the Alzheimer’s Questionnaire (AQ) with the CDR Sum of Boxes, MoCA, and MMSE 
Alzheimer disease and associated disorders  2012;10.1097/WAD.0b013e3182769731.
The Alzheimer’s Questionnaire (AQ) has been established as a valid and accurate informant-based screening questionnaire for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). Although the AQ’s validity and diagnostic accuracy has been established, its performance in comparison to other instruments has not. 39 amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) cases and 34 Alzheimer’s disease (AD) cases were matched on age, education, and gender to 73 cognitively normal individuals. The sample had a mean age of 82.54±7.77 and a mean education level of 14.61±2.61 years. The diagnostic accuracy of the CDR Sum of Boxes, Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE), Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), were compared to the AQ. The AQ correlated strongly with the CDR Sum of Boxes (r = .79) and demonstrated similar diagnostic accuracy with the MoCA and MMSE. These results suggest that the AQ is comparable to other established informant-based and patient-based measures.
PMCID: PMC3584226  PMID: 23138174
cognitive screening; mild cognitive impairment; neuropsychological tests; dementia screening
23.  Can platelet BACE1 levels be used as a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease? Proof-of-concept study 
Platelets  2012;24(3):235-238.
To date there is no validated peripheral biomarker to assist with the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Platelet proteins have been studied as AD biomarkers with relative success. In the present study we investigated whether platelet BACE1 levels differ between AD and cognitively normal (CN) control patients. Using a newly developed ELISA method, we found that BACE1 levels were significantly lower in AD compare to CN subjects. These data were supported by the observation that several BACE1 isoforms, identified by Western blotting, were also lower in AD platelets. This proof-of-concept study provides evidence for testing platelet BACE1 levels as a peripheral AD biomarker using a novel, sensitive and inexpensive method.
PMCID: PMC4000702  PMID: 22775589
Alzheimer’s disease; BACE1; Biomarker; Peripheral; Platelets
24.  PET imaging of amyloid with Florbetapir F 18 and PET imaging of dopamine degeneration with 18F-AV-133 (florbenazine) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body disorders 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:79.
Biomarkers based on the underlying pathology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) have the potential to improve diagnosis and understanding of the substrate for cognitive impairment in these disorders. The objective of this study was to compare the patterns of amyloid and dopamine PET imaging in patients with AD, DLB and Parkinson’s disease (PD) using the amyloid imaging agent florbetapir F 18 and 18F-AV-133 (florbenazine), a marker for vesicular monamine type 2 transporters (VMAT2).
Patients with DLB and AD, Parkinson’s disease (PD) and healthy controls (HC) were recruited for this study. On separate days, subjects received intravenous injections of florbetapir, and florbenazine. Amyloid burden and VMAT2 density were assessed quantitatively and by binary clinical interpretation. Imaging results for both tracers were compared across the four individual diagnostic groups and for combined groups based on underlying pathology (AD/DLB vs. PD/HC for amyloid burden and PD/DLB vs. AD/HC for VMAT binding) and correlated with measures of cognition and parkinsonism.
11 DLB, 10 AD, 5 PD, and 5 controls participated in the study. Amyloid binding was significantly higher in the combined AD/DLB patient group (n = 21) compared to the PD/HC groups (n = 10, mean SUVr: 1.42 vs. 1.07; p = 0.0006). VMAT2 density was significantly lower in the PD/DLB group (n = 16) compared to the AD/ HC group (n = 15; 1.83 vs. 2.97; p < 0.0001). Within the DLB group, there was a significant correlation between cognitive performance and striatal florbenazine binding (r = 0.73; p = 0.011).
The results of this study show significant differences in both florbetapir and florbenazine imaging that are consistent with expected pathology. In addition, VMAT density correlated significantly with cognitive impairment in DLB patients ( identifier: NCT00857506, registered March 5, 2009).
PMCID: PMC4027995  PMID: 24716655
PET imaging; Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; Biomarkers
25.  Submandibular Gland Biopsy for the Diagnosis of Parkinson Disease 
The clinical diagnosis of Parkinson disease (PD) is incorrect in 30% or more of subjects, particularly at the time of symptom onset. Because Lewy-type α-synucleinopathy (LTS) is present in the submandibular glands of PD patients, we assessed the feasibility of submandibular gland biopsy for diagnosing PD. We performed immunohistochemical staining for LTS in sections of large segments (simulating open biopsy) and needle cores of submandibular gland from 128 autopsied and neuropathologically classified subjects, including 28 PD, 5 incidental Lewy body disease, 5 progressive supranuclear palsy ([PSP] 3 with concurrent PD), 3 corticobasal degeneration, 2 multiple system atrophy, 22 Alzheimer disease with Lewy bodies (ADLB), 16 Alzheimer disease without Lewy bodies and 50 normal elderly. Immunoreactive nerve fibers were present in large submandibular gland sections of all 28 PD subjects (including 3 that also had PSP); 3 ADLB subjects were also positive, but none of the other subjects were positive. Cores from frozen submandibular glands taken with 18 gauge needles (total length 15–38 mm, between 10 and 118 sections per subject examined) were positive for LTS in 17 of 19 PD patients. These results suggest that biopsy of the submandibular gland may be a feasible means of improving PD clinical diagnostic accuracy. This would be particularly advantageous for subject selection in early-stage clinical trials, for invasive therapies or for verifying other biomarker studies.
PMCID: PMC3571631  PMID: 23334596
α-Synuclein; Biomarker; Clinical trial; Deep brain stimulation; Gene therapy; Lewy body; Parkinson disease; Surgery; Transplantation

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