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The influence of phospho-τ on dendritic spines of cortical pyramidal neurons in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

The dendritic spines on pyramidal cells represent the main postsynaptic elements of cortical excitatory synapses and they are fundamental structures in memory, learning and cognition. In the present study, we used intracellular injections of Lucifer yellow in fixed tissue to analyse over 19 500 dendritic spines that were completely reconstructed in three dimensions along the length of the basal dendrites of pyramidal neurons in the parahippocampal cortex and CA1 of patients with Alzheimer's disease. Following intracellular injection, sections were immunostained for anti-Lucifer yellow and with tau monoclonal antibodies AT8 and PHF-1, which recognize tau phosphorylated at Ser202/Thr205 and at Ser396/404, respectively. We observed that the diffuse accumulation of phospho-tau in a putative pre-tangle state did not induce changes in the dendrites of pyramidal neurons, whereas the presence of tau aggregates forming intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles was associated with progressive alteration of dendritic spines (loss of dendritic spines and changes in their morphology) and dendrite atrophy, depending on the degree of tangle development. Thus, the presence of phospho-tau in neurons does not necessarily mean that they suffer severe and irreversible effects as thought previously but rather, the characteristic cognitive impairment in Alzheimer's disease is likely to depend on the relative number of neurons that have well developed tangles.

Pubmed ID: 23715095 RIS Download

Mesh terms: Alzheimer Disease | Cell Count | Cerebral Cortex | Dendritic Spines | Humans | Phosphorylation | Pyramidal Cells | tau Proteins

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CERAD - Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease

Consortium that developed brief, standardized and reliable procedures for the evaluation and diagnosis of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other dementias of the elderly. These procedures included data forms, flipbooks, guidebooks, brochures, instruction manuals and demonstration tapes, which are now available for purchase. The CERAD assessment material can be used for research purposes as well as for patient care. CERAD has developed several basic standardized instruments, each consisting of brief forms designed to gather data on normal persons as well as on cognitively impaired or behaviorally disturbed individuals. Such data permit the identification of dementia based on clinical, neuropsychological, behavioral or neuropathological criteria. Staff at participating CERAD sites were trained and certified to administer the assessment instruments and to evaluate the subjects enrolled in the study. Cases and controls were evaluated at entry and annually thereafter including (when possible) autopsy examination of the brain to track the natural progression of AD and to obtain neuropathological confirmation of the clinical diagnosis. The CERAD database has become a major resource for research in Alzheimer's disease. It contains longitudinal data for periods as long as seven years on the natural progression of the disorder as well as information on clinical and neuropsychological changes and neuropathological manifestations.

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