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Neurobiol Aging. 1992 Nov-Dec;13(6):631-9.

Reduced GAP-43 message levels are associated with increased neurofibrillary tangle density in the frontal association cortex (area 9) in Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester Medical Center, NY 14642.


We previously suggested the hypothesis that defective neuronal plasticity is a major neurobiological deficit causing the dementia of Alzheimer's disease (AD). We used message levels of the growth-associated protein, GAP-43, as a marker of axonal plasticity to examine the hypothesis of defective neuronal plasticity in AD. When all AD cases are combined, the average level of GAP-43 message in area 9 of the AD frontal association cortex was not significantly different from the level in the comparably aged control cortex. Differentiation of AD cases on the basis of neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) density revealed that in AD cases with high tangle density average GAP-43 message level was reduced fivefold relative to levels in AD cases with low NFT density. AD cases with low neurofibrillary tangle density had levels of GAP-43 message that were not significantly different from the levels of normal controls. Differentiation of AD cases on the basis of neuritic plaque density did not indicate as strong a relationship to GAP-43 message level. The association between neurofibrillary tangle density and GAP-43 message level suggests the hypothesis that neurofibrillary tangles may reduce GAP-43 expression. Data of others show a relationship between high NFT density and reduced levels of synaptophysin-like immunoreactivity and reduced cerebral glucose metabolism. These data combine to suggest a set of AD cases with high NFT density, reduced axonal plasticity, reduced synaptic density, and reduced cerebral glucose metabolism--all variables that may be directly related to the functioning of the brain.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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