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Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2012;5(6):482-95. Epub 2012 Jul 29.

Ultrastructural studies in APP/PS1 mice expressing human ApoE isoforms: implications for Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University in Saint Louis, MO 6311, USA.


Alzheimer's disease is characterized in part by extracellular aggregation of the amyloid-β peptide in the form of diffuse and fibrillar plaques in the brain. Electron microscopy (EM) has made an important contribution in understanding of the structure of amyloid plaques in humans. Classical EM studies have revealed the architecture of the fibrillar core, characterized the progression of neuritic changes, and have identified the neurofibrillary tangles formed by paired helical filaments (PHF) in degenerating neurons. Clinical data has strongly correlated cognitive impairment in AD with the substantial synapse loss observed in these early ultrastructural studies. Animal models of AD-type brain amyloidosis have provided excellent opportunities to study amyloid and neuritic pathology in detail and establish the role of neurons and glia in plaque formation. Transgenic mice overexpressing mutant amyloid precursor protein (APP) alone with or without mutant presenilin 1 (PS1), have shown that brain amyloid plaque development and structure grossly recapitulate classical findings in humans. Transgenic APP/PS1 mice expressing human apolioprotein E isoforms also develop amyloid plaque deposition. However no ultrastructural data has been reported for these animals. Here we show results from detailed EM analysis of amyloid plaques in APP/PS1 mice expressing human isoforms of ApoE and compare these findings with EM data in other transgenic models and in human AD. Our results show that similar to other transgenic animals, APP/PS1 mice expressing human ApoE isoforms share all major cellular and subcellular degenerative features and highlight the identity of the cellular elements involved in Aβ deposition and neuronal degeneration.


Alzheimer’s disease; ApoE; amyloid precursor protein; electron microscopy; presenilin 1

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