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Acta Neuropathol. 2010 Feb;119(2):221-33. doi: 10.1007/s00401-009-0583-3. Epub 2009 Aug 19.

Deficient high-affinity binding of Pittsburgh compound B in a case of Alzheimer's disease.

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Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.


Radiolabeled Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) is a benzothiazole imaging agent that usually binds with high affinity, specificity, and stoichiometry to cerebral beta-amyloid (Abeta) in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Among a cohort of ten AD subjects examined postmortem, we describe a case of idiopathic, end-stage Alzheimer's disease with heavy Abeta deposition yet substantially diminished high-affinity binding of (3)H-PIB to cortical homogenates and unfixed cryosections. Cortical tissue samples were analyzed by immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, ELISA, immunoblotting, MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, in vitro (3)H-PIB binding and (3)H-PIB autoradiography. The PIB-refractory subject met the histopathological criteria for AD. However, cortical tissue from this case contained more vascular beta-amyloidosis, higher levels of insoluble Abeta40 and Abeta42, and a higher ratio of Abeta40:Abeta42 than did tissue from the nine comparison AD cases. Furthermore, cerebral Abeta from the PIB-refractory subject displayed an unusual distribution of low- and high-molecular weight Abeta oligomers, as well as a distinct pattern of N- and C-terminally truncated Abeta peptides in both the soluble and insoluble cortical extracts. Genetically, the patient was apolipoprotein-E3/4 heterozygous, and exhibited no known AD-associated mutations in the genes for the beta-amyloid precursor protein, presenilin1 or presenilin2. Our findings suggest that PIB may differentially recognize polymorphic forms of multimeric Abeta in humans with Alzheimer's disease. In addition, while the prevalence of PIB-refractory cases in the general AD population remains to be determined, the paucity of high-affinity binding sites in this AD case cautions that minimal PIB retention in positron-emission tomography scans of demented patients may not always rule out the presence of Alzheimer-type Abeta pathology.

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