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Acta Neuropathol. 2006 Feb;111(2):109-14. Epub 2006 Jan 19.

Depletion of cholinergic neurons in the nucleus of the medial septum and the vertical limb of the diagonal band in dementia with Lewy bodies.

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Department of Geriatrics, Medicine in Growth and Aging, Program in Health and Community Medicine, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, 65 Tsurumai-cho, Showa-ku, 466-8550, Nagoya, Japan.


The cholinergic basal forebrain is divided into four subregions (Ch1-4), and cholinergic neuronal loss in the nucleus basalis of Meynert (Ch4) has been correlated with cognitive impairments in both Alzheimer's disease (AD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). However, the Ch1-2 regions, which provide the major cholinergic innervation to the hippocampus, have not been investigated in DLB. The purpose of this study was to reveal the cholinergic neuronal changes in the medial septum (Ch1) and the nucleus of the vertical limb of the diagonal band (Ch2) of DLB brains. Using choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) immunohistochemistry, we showed that the number of ChAT-immunoreactive neurons in DLB brains was significantly lower than the numbers in AD and non-demented (control) brains. No significant difference in the number of ChAT-immunoreactive neurons was found between the AD and control brains. Moreover, the size of the ChAT-immunoreactive neurons was significantly smaller in the AD and DLB brains than in the control brains. These results show that cholinergic neurons of the Ch1-2 regions are more severely affected in DLB than in AD. Our DLB cases did not fulfill the neuropathologic criteria for definite AD. Furthermore, some Lewy bodies were observed in the Ch1-2 regions. Thus, cholinergic neuronal loss in the Ch1-2 regions might be specific to the pathology of DLB. Taking the distribution of cholinergic fibers in the hippocampus into consideration, this study suggests a possibility that hippocampal cholinergic projection is involved in Lewy-related neurites in the CA2-3 regions, the origin of which remains unclear.

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