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Acta Neuropathol. 2001 Mar;101(3):256-70.

Frontotemporal dementia: evidence for impairment of ascending serotoninergic but not noradrenergic innervation. Immunocytochemical and quantitative study using a graph method.

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Department of Neuropathology, Institute of Pathology, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 220-221, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


A graph method was employed to analyze the spatial neuronal patterns of nuclear grays of the pontine tegmentum with ascending aminergic projections to the forebrain in 12 cases of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The nuclear grays examined were the nucleus centralis superior (NCS), a part of the nucleus raphae dorsalis (NRD), and the locus coeruleus (LC). The results were compared with 30 cases of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 35 non-demented controls. In addition to the graph evaluations, neuronal cytoplasmic inclusion bodies were stained by silver impregnation and ubiquitin (Ub) and tau immunohistochemistry. The FTD cases showed a significant, 40%, decline in number of neurons in the NCS and NRD, while the LC was spared. The magnitude of neuronal loss matched that of AD where, by contrast, the LC was also severely changed. Amyloid deposition and Alzheimer neurofibrillary tangles occurred in the aminergic nuclei almost exclusively in AD and, to a minor extent, in some aged controls. No cytoplasmic inclusion bodies were found in the aminergic nuclei of the FTD cases. However, 6 cases had Ub-positive but tau-negative neuronal inclusions in the hippocampal dentate fascia and in layer 2 of the prefrontal isocortex, and 3 showed clinical and histological signs of motor neuron disease. Our results suggest that the serotoninergic raphe nuclei with ascending projections to the forebrain, but not the LC, become directly or indirectly involved in frontotemporal dementia both with and without motor neuron disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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