University Of Tasmania

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Neurochemical Diversity of Dystrophic Neurites in the Early and late Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

We examined the neurochemical and morphological diversity of abnormal neurites associated with β-amyloid plaque formation in the early and late stages of Alzheimer's disease. Preclinical Alzheimer's disease was characterised by the presence of abnormal neurites containing either neurofilament or chromogranin A immunoreactivity. All clustered dystrophic neurites in these cases were associated with β-amyloid plaques. Neurofilament immunoreactive dystrophic neurites in preclinical Alzheimer's disease could be further subclassified into bulb- and ring-like structures, and these abnormal neurites contained both phosphorylated and dephosphorylated neurofilament epitopes. Dystrophic neurites in Alzheimer's disease could be subdivided into predominantly neurofilament, tau, or chromogranin A immunolabeled forms. Some neurofilament immunoreactive neurites had a core region labeled for tau. The neurofilaments of the dystrophic neurites in Alzheimer's disease had the same complement of phosphorylation- and dephosphorylation-dependent epitopes as observed in preclinical cases. Therefore, an abnormal accumulation of variably phosphorylated neurofilaments represent the earliest cytoskeletal alteration associated with dystrophic neurite formation. Furthermore, these data indicate that dystrophic neurites may 'mature' through neurofilament-abundant forms to the neurites containing the profoundly altered filaments labeled for tau. The precise morphological and neurochemical changes associated with dystrophic neurite formation suggests that β-amyloid plaques are causing physical damage to surrounding axons. The resultant axonal sprouting and profound cytoskeletal alterations would follow the chronic stimulation of the stereotypical reaction to such physical trauma.


Publication title

Experimental Neurology








Tasmanian School of Medicine


Academic Press

Place of publication

San Diego, USA

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Clinical health not elsewhere classified

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