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Am J Pathol. 2001 Feb;158(2):555-62.

Age-dependent induction of congophilic neurofibrillary tau inclusions in tau transgenic mice.

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Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Intraneuronal filamentous tau inclusions such as neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) are neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related sporadic and familial tauopathies. NFTs identical to those found in AD brains have also been detected in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex of cognitively normal individuals as they age. To recapitulate age-induced NFT formation in a mouse model, we examined 12- to 24-month-old transgenic (Tg) mice overexpressing the smallest human brain tau isoform. These Tg mice develop congophilic tau inclusions in several brain regions including the hippocampus, amygdala, and entorhinal cortex. NFT-like inclusions were first detected in Tg mice at 18 to 20 months of age and they were detected by histochemical dyes that bind specifically to crossed beta-pleated sheet structures (eg, Congo red, Thioflavin S). Moreover, ultrastructurally these lesions contained straight tau filaments comprised of both mouse and human tau proteins but not other cytoskeletal proteins (eg, neurofilaments, microtubules). Isolated tau filaments were also recovered from detergent-insoluble tau fractions and insoluble tau proteins accumulated in brain in an age-dependent manner. Thus, overexpression of the smallest human brain tau isoform resulted in late onset and age-dependent formation of congophilic tau inclusions with properties similar to those in the tangles of human tauopathies, thereby implicating aging in the pathogenesis of fibrous tau inclusions.

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