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Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 1998 Sep;12(3):215-27.

Longitudinal study of inflammatory factors in serum, cerebrospinal fluid, and brain tissue in Alzheimer disease: interleukin-1beta, interleukin-6, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, the soluble tumor necrosis factor receptors I and II, and alpha1-antichymotrypsin.

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  • 1University Department of Pharmacology, Oxford, United Kingdom.


There is evidence consistent with the hypothesis that inflammatory and immune mechanisms are involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease (AD). We have investigated whether the levels of inflammatory associated proteins in serum or lumbar cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) reflect the progressive cognitive decline and brain atrophy of AD-patients. Levels of interleukin-1beta(IL-1beta), IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), the soluble TNF receptors type I and II (sTNFR I and II), and the acute phase protein alpha1-antichymotrypsin (x1-ACT) were determined in paired serum and CSF samples taken yearly over a period of 2-5 years from pathologically confirmed AD patients (n = 8) and normal controls or non-AD subjects with other CNS pathology (n = 9). No significant differences were found between AD subjects and controls in the mean levels of the above mediators. There was also no correlation in either subject group between the levels of these inflammatory mediators in serum or CSF, and the change in cognitive status or the progression of the atrophy of the medial temporal lobe measured by X-ray computed tomography (CT). The concentrations of IL-1beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha were determined in brain tissue specimens of five to nine different brain regions in six of the AD patients and four of the non-AD subjects. The levels of IL-1beta and IL-6 in the various brain regions were not significantly different in the AD and the non-AD group. However, in AD patients the level of TNF-alpha was significantly lower in the frontal cortex (32%, p = 0.024), the superior temporal gyrus (57%, p = 0.021), and the entorhinal cortex (49%, p = 0.009) compared with non-AD subjects. Low levels of TNF-alpha in the brain areas that showed neuropathology in AD may indicate a dysregulation of the inflammatory process in AD. Despite this finding, this study does not support the use of measurements of any of the inflammatory mediators investigated here as a diagnostic parameter for AD, due the large overlap in the levels of these factors between AD patients and other subjects, and the poor relation to clinical signs of AD.

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