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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2002 Dec;61(12):1069-77.

Astrocytic deformity and globular structures are characteristic of the brains of patients with aceruloplasminemia.

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Third Department of Internal Medicine, Shinshu University School of Medicine, Matsumoto City, Japan.


Aceruloplasminemia is an interesting disease, the study of which helps elucidate how iron-induced oxidative stress is involved in neuronal cell death. In order to study the neuropathological characteristics associated with oxidative stress, we scrutinized the brains of 5 patients with aceruloplasminemia histopathologically and immunohistochemically. The pathological findings were essentially similar in all patients. In the frontal cortices, iron deposition and neuronal cell loss were trivial, but in the basal ganglia (especially in the caudate nucleus and putamen), severe iron overload and extensive neuronal loss were noted. Iron deposition was more prominent in the astrocytes than in the neurons in both regions. 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE), one of the most physiologically active lipid peroxides, was strongly detected on neurons and astrocytes by immunostaining. Markedly deformed astrocytes were observed in the striatum. These astrocytes were similar to Alzheimer type 1 astrocytes. Globular structures were seen in proportion to the degree of iron deposition. They clearly reacted with anti-glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and anti-S-100 antibodies and contained glial fibril-like filaments, but showed no or only faint immunoreactivity to antibodies for neuronal marker proteins, such as neurofilament and synaptophysin. Therefore, the globular structures presumably originated from astrocytes. The structures also reacted positively to anti-HNE and anti-ubiquitin antibodies. We conclude that astrocytic deformities and globular structures are characteristic neuropathological features of aceruloplasminemia and are closely linked to iron overload and subsequent oxidative stress.

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