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Int J Dev Neurosci. 1998 Nov-Dec;16(7-8):787-94.

NGF content in the cerebral cortex of non-demented patients with amyloid-plaques and in symptomatic Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Geneva, Switzerland.


There is increasing evidence that in Alzheimer's disease nerve growth factor (NGF) protein and NGF mRNA content in postmortem cortex is not decreased, but may even be elevated although the NGF-sensitive cholinergic basal forebrain neurons are preferentially affected. However, only little is known about the early pathophysiological events leading to Alzheimer's disease. We therefore measured the post-mortem NGF concentrations in temporal and frontal cortex of Alzheimer's disease patients, non-demented controls without Alzheimer's disease-related pathology, as well as non-demented patients with beta A4 plaques who might be classified as 'preclinical' cases. In the Alzheimer's disease group we found up to 43% increase in NGF concentrations in the frontal and temporal cortex as compared to the two other groups. In a subgroup analysis of the non-demented patients with plaques, NGF concentrations were lower in the frontal cortex when beta A4 plaques were present (46% of the control temporal area) than in patients without evidence of frontal plaques (81% of the control temporal area). This NGF decrease was paralleled to a similar decrease of choline acetyltransferase activity, which is regulated by NGF in the cholinergic basal forebrain. These findings support the hypothesis of lower cortical NGF content at the onset of plaque formation and of elevated NGF levels in the clinically manifest and neuropathologically advanced stage of the disease.

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