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Acta Neuropathol. 2004 Jan;107(1):53-8. Epub 2003 Oct 29.

Expression of BRI, the normal precursor of the amyloid protein of familial British dementia, in human brain.

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Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry, 2-1-8 Kamikitazawa, Setagaya-ku, 156-8585, Tokyo, Japan.


Familial British dementia (FBD) is characterized neuropathologically by deposition of a unique amyloid-forming protein, ABri. It is a fragment of an abnormal form of a precursor protein, BRI. In FBD, BRI is elongated by 11 amino acids due to a point mutation that prevents recognition of the normal stop codon. We have investigated the expression of normal BRI in non-FBD cases. Three antibodies were raised against sequences of BRI and were used for immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry. Each of these antibodies detected a band at approximately 35 kDa by Western blotting. In postmortem human brain tissues, BRI was detected as fine granules in the neuronal cytoplasm. Pyramidal neurons in CA3 and CA4 of the hippocampus as well as Purkinje cells in the cerebellar cortex were most intensely stained for BRI. Such a distribution of neurons strongly expressing BRI parallels the reported occurrence of ABri deposits in patients with FBD. In pathological cases, BRI was detected in dystrophic neurites in senile plaques, around lesions in ischemic cases, in torpedo and glumose changes in the cerebellum, Lewy neurites, ballooned neurons, and neurons generally in hypoxic cases. These results suggest that BRI is transported in neuronal processes and is possibly involved in some role in nerve terminals. While a physiological role of BRI in brain remains to be determined, the behavior of BRI in diverse brain lesions appears to be somewhat analogous to that of amyloid precursor protein, which is the source of the beta-amyloid protein of Alzheimer's disease.

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