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Acta Neuropathol. 2016 May;131(5):737-52. doi: 10.1007/s00401-016-1560-2. Epub 2016 Mar 17.

Tau pathology-dependent remodelling of cerebral arteries precedes Alzheimer's disease-related microvascular cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

Author information

1
Institute for Regenerative Medicine - IREM, University of Zurich, Schlieren Campus, Wagistrasse 12, 8952, Schlieren, Switzerland. mario.merlini@uzh.ch.
2
Center for Molecular Cardiology - Vascular Aging and Stroke, University of Zurich, Schlieren Campus, Wagistrasse 12, 8952, Schlieren, Switzerland. mario.merlini@uzh.ch.
3
Faculty of Science, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057, Zurich, Switzerland.
4
Institute for Regenerative Medicine - IREM, University of Zurich, Schlieren Campus, Wagistrasse 12, 8952, Schlieren, Switzerland.

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterised by pathologic cerebrovascular remodelling. Whether this occurs already before disease onset, as may be indicated by early Braak tau-related cerebral hypoperfusion and blood-brain barrier (BBB) impairment found in previous studies, remains unknown. Therefore, we systematically quantified Braak tau stage- and cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA)-dependent alterations in the alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), collagen, and elastin content of leptomeningeal arterioles, small arteries, and medium-sized arteries surrounding the gyrus frontalis medialis (GFM) and hippocampus (HIPP), including the sulci, of 17 clinically and pathologically diagnosed AD subjects (Braak stage IV-VI) and 28 non-demented control subjects (Braak stage I-IV). GFM and HIPP paraffin sections were stained for general collagen and elastin with the Verhoeff-van Gieson stain; α-SMA and CAA/amyloid β (Aβ) were detected using immunohistochemistry. Significant arterial elastin degradation was observed from Braak stage III onward and correlated with Braak tau pathology (ρ = 0.909, 95% CI 0.370 to 0.990, p < 0.05). This was accompanied by an increase in neutrophil elastase expression by α-SMA-positive cells in the vessel wall. Small and medium-sized arteries exhibited significant CAA-independent α-SMA loss starting between Braak stage I and II-III, along with accumulation of phosphorylated paired helical filament (PHF) tau in the perivascular space of intraparenchymal vessels. α-SMA remained at the decreased level throughout the later Braak stages. In contrast, arterioles exhibited significant α-SMA loss only at Braak stage V and VI/in AD subjects, which was CAA-dependent/correlated with CAA burden (ρ = -0.422, 95% CI -0.557 to -0.265, p < 0.0001). Collagen content was only significantly changed in small arteries. Our data indicate that vessel wall remodelling of leptomeningeal arteries is an early-onset, Braak tau pathology-dependent process unrelated to CAA and AD, which potentially may contribute to downstream CAA-dependent microvascular pathology in AD.

KEYWORDS:

Cerebrovascular pathology; Collagen; Hyperphosphorylated tau; Internal elastic lamina; Neutrophil elastase; Vascular smooth muscle

PMID:
26988843
PMCID:
PMC4835519
DOI:
10.1007/s00401-016-1560-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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