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Neuroscience. 2007 Dec 5;150(2):357-69. Epub 2007 Sep 18.

Amyloid plaques arise from zinc-enriched cortical layers in APP/PS1 transgenic mice and are paradoxically enlarged with dietary zinc deficiency.

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  • 1Neurobiology, Institute of Anatomy, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.


The ZnT3 zinc transporter is uniquely expressed in cortical glutamatergic synapses where it organizes zinc release into the synaptic cleft and mediates beta-amyloid deposition in transgenic mice. We studied the association of zinc in plaques in relation to cytoarchitectural zinc localization in the APP/PS1 transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. The effects of low dietary zinc for 3 months upon brain pathology were also studied. We determined that synaptic zinc distribution within cortical layers is paralleled by amyloid burden, which is heaviest for both in layers 2-3 and 5. ZnT3 immunoreactivity is prominent in dystrophic neurites within amyloid plaques. Low dietary zinc caused a significant 25% increase in total plaque volume in Alzheimer's mice using stereological measures. The level of oxidized proteins in brain tissue did not changed in animals on a zinc-deficient diet compared with controls. No obvious changes were observed in the autometallographic pattern of zinc-enriched terminals in the neocortex or in the expression levels of zinc transporters, zinc importers or metallothioneins. A small decrease in plasma zinc induced by the low-zinc diet was consistent with the subclinical zinc deficiency that is common in older human populations. While the mechanism remains uncertain, our findings indicate that subclinical zinc deficiency may be a risk factor for Alzheimer's pathology.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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