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Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2002 Jun;28(3):218-27.

Synapse loss is greater in presenile than senile onset Alzheimer disease: implications for the cognitive reserve hypothesis.

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1
Department of Pathology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA. e-bigio@northwestern.edu

Abstract

In the past, 'Alzheimer disease' (AD) referred to pathologic AD with clinical onset of dementia in the presenium, while 'senile dementia of the Alzheimer type' (SDAT) referred to senile onset AD. Because AD appears clinically homogeneous regardless of age of onset, the two subtypes in more recent years have not been distinguished. Pathologic differences have been noted, but synapse loss has not previously been compared between the two groups. Hypothesizing that synapse loss would be greater in presenile onset than senile onset AD, we compared synapse loss, as well as Alzheimer pathology in presenile and senile onset AD, using an ELISA method to quantify synaptophysin. Synaptophysin was significantly lower in presenile than senile AD in right frontal and bilateral parietal lobes. Neuritic plaque counts were significantly higher in presenile than senile AD in bilateral frontal and parietal lobes. Semi-quantitative evaluation of neurofibrillary tangles revealed significantly more tangles in bilateral frontal and parietal lobes in presenile than senile AD. Brain weight was significantly lower in presenile than senile AD. The differences in synapse loss and Alzheimer-type pathology in presenile and senile onset AD support the hypothesis that 'cognitive reserve' protects the human brain from neurodegenerative disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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