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J Neurocytol. 2004 May;33(3):377-87.

Dendrite and dendritic spine alterations in Alzheimer models.

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  • 1Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain and Department of Pathology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Synaptic damage and loss are factors that affect the degree of dementia experienced in Alzheimer disease (AD) patients. Multicolor DiOlistic labeling of the hippocampus has been undertaken which allows the full dendritic arbor of targeted neurons to be imaged. Using this labeling technique the neuronal morphology of two transgenic mouse lines (J20 and APP/PS1) expressing mutant forms of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP), at various ages, have been visualized and compared to Wild Type (WT) littermate controls. Swollen bulbous dystrophic neurites with loss of spines were apparent in the transgenic animals. Upon quantification, statistically significant reductions in the number of spines and total dendrite area was observed in both transgenic mouse lines at 11 months of age. Similar morphological abnormalities were seen in human AD hippocampal tissue both qualitatively and quantitatively. Immunohistochemistry and DiOlistic labeling was combined so that Abeta plaques were imaged in relation to the dendritic trees. No preferential localization of these abnormal dystrophic neurites was seen in regions with plaques. DiI labeled reative astrocytes were often apparent in close proximity to A beta plaques.

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