Send to

Choose Destination
Acta Neuropathol. 1992;84(3):225-33.

Ultrastructure of the microglia that phagocytose amyloid and the microglia that produce beta-amyloid fibrils.

Author information

Department of Pathological Neurobiology, New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island 10314.


The function of microglia associated with beta-amyloid deposits still remains a controversial issue. On the basis of recent ultrastructural data, microglia were postulated to be cells that form amyloid fibrils, not phagocytes that remove amyloid deposits. In this electron microscopic study, we examined the ability of microglia to ingest and digest exogenous amyloid fibrils in vitro. We demonstrate that amyloid fibrils are ingested by cultured microglial cells and collected and stored in phagosomes. The ingested, nondegraded amyloid remains within phagosomes for up to 20 days, suggesting a very limited effectiveness of microglia in degrading beta-amyloid fibrils. On the other hand, we showed that in microglial cells of classical plaques in brain cortex of patients with Alzheimer's disease, amyloid fibrils appear first in altered endoplasmic reticulum and deep infoldings of cell membranes. These differences in intracellular distribution of amyloid fibrils in microglial cells support our observations that microglial cells associated with amyloid plaques are engaged in production of amyloid, but not in phagocytosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center