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J Psychosom Res. 2006 Sep;61(3):311-6.

Altered neurogenesis in Alzheimer's disease.

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Institute of Ageing and Health, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Newcastle General Hospital, Westgate Road, NE4 6BE Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.



Exciting preliminary work indicates an increase in progenitor activity in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus of people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) compared to that of controls. We examine progenitor activity in the other main progenitor niche, the subventricular zone (SVZ), as well as potential associations with key pathological and neurochemical substrates.


Immunocytochemistry techniques utilizing nestin and Musashi1 antibodies were used to examine progenitor activity in the SVZ and to enable comparisons between seven patients with AD and seven controls, based upon the quantification of the percentage area covered, using the Image Pro Plus v.4.1 image analysis system. AD pathology was staged using the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease and Braak criteria. Choline acetyl transferase (ChAT) was measured in the temporal cortex as an indication of the severity of cortical cholinergic deficits. Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was used to label astrocytes.


There was a significant ninefold decrease (Z = 2.2, P = .046) of Musashi1 immunoreactivity in the SVZ of patients with AD in comparison with that of controls, but there was a significant increase in nestin immunoreactivity in the same region (Z = 2.2, P = .028) without any significant change in GFAP immunoreactivity. Reduced ChAT enzymatic activity was the main association of Musashi immunoreactivity (R = -.90, P = .03).


The current results indicate a significant reduction of progenitor cells (as labeled by Musashi1) in the SVZ of patients with AD, but an increase in GFAP-negative astrocyte-like cells with progenitor characteristics. Cortical cholinergic loss was strongly associated with the reduction of progenitors, with potential implications of important treatment targets.

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