Question on Alzheimer Pathology

Stavros P. Zanos stavrosz at med.auth.gr
Mon Jul 28 07:24:30 EST 1997

Dear colleagues,

Im not sure whether this is the right list to post this kind of question,
however I could really use any information, since my Neurology and
Neuropathology exams are approaching. Please respond personally to my
email address if you consider this discussion as out of the scopes of the

Two typical histopathological findings in Alzheimer brains are:

1. The innumerable neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) found in the limbic and
association cortices, accompanied by NFTs in neurons of subcortical nuclei
that project to these regions (locus ceruleus, median raphe nuclei).

2. Neurons in the limbic and association cortices, and in the subcortical
nuclei that project to them, often undergo perikaryal shrinkage and other
morphological manifestations of apoptotic neuronal cell-death.

I was wandering whether these two findings (NFTs and apoptosis) coincide
in the same neurons, since they appear to affect the same brain regions.

If this was the case, then NFT pathology (helical and straight
filaments) might participate in the pathogenesis of neuronal loss, as has
already been suggested for amyloid beta protein. If, on the other hand,
neurons that undergo apoptosis do not pass through a stage of NFT
formation, then it would be possible that NFTs wouldnt be a specific
histological marker of AD, as has been suggested in some studies that
implicated NFT formation in connection to certain kinds of neuronal injury
(I can recall subacute sclerosing panecephalitis as an example).

Thank you for your time.

Stavros Zanos
Depts. of Experimental Physiology
Aristotle Univ. School of Medicine
Thessaloniki, GREECE

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