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Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2012;33(2-3):174-88. doi: 10.1159/000338181. Epub 2012 May 10.

Altered distribution of the gangliosides GM1 and GM2 in Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, Molndal, Sweden.



Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder where β-amyloid tends to aggregate and form plaques. Lipid raft-associated ganglioside GM1 has been suggested to facilitate β-amyloid aggregation; furthermore, GM1 and GM2 are increased in lipid rafts isolated from cerebral cortex of AD cases.


The distribution of GM1 and GM2 was studied by immunohistochemistry in the frontal and temporal cortex of AD cases. Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) was included as a contrast group.


The distribution of GM1 and GM2 changes during the process of AD (n = 5) and FTD (n = 3) compared to controls (n = 5). Altered location of the GM1-positive small circular structures seems to be associated with myelin degradation. In the grey matter, the staining of GM1-positive plasma membranes might reflect neuronal loss in the AD/FTD tissue. The GM1-positive compact bundles were only visible in cells located in the AD frontal grey matter, possibly reflecting raft formation of GM1 and thus a pathological connection. Furthermore, our results suggest GM2 to be enriched within vesicles of pyramidal neurons of the AD/FTD brain.


Our study supports the biochemical finding of ganglioside accumulation in cellular membranes of AD patients and shows a redistribution of these molecules.

Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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