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Am J Pathol. 1987 Dec;129(3):422-8.

Brain amyloid in normal aging and cerebral amyloid angiopathy is antigenically related to Alzheimer's disease beta-protein.

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Department of Pharmacology, New York University School of Medicine, NY 10016.


Amyloid deposition is a prominent feature of a number of brain disorders, in which amyloid fibrils are found within blood vessel walls, the neuropil (neuritic plaques), neurons (neurofibrillary tangles). These include Alzheimer's disease (AD), AD changes associated with Down's syndrome, neurologically asymptomatic amyloidosis, Parkinson dementia of Guam, hereditary cerebral hemorrhage with amyloidosis of Icelandic origin (HCHWA-I), hereditary cerebral hemorrhage with amyloidosis of Dutch origin (HCHWA-D), and sporadic cerebral amyloid angiopathy (SCAA). Recently it was shown that the amyloid deposits in AD, Parkinson dementia of Guam, and HCHWA-D are formed by a similar 4-kd polypeptide called beta-protein. Because the nature of the amyloid deposits in other types of cerebral amyloidosis is not known, we have conducted immunocytochemical studies on brains from autopsy cases of AD, HCHWA-D, SCAA and neurologically asymptomatic elderly individuals. Brains from two subjects without neurologic involvement were used as controls. Sections from these specimens were incubated with rabbit polyclonal antibodies against 1) a synthetic peptide of 28 residues (anti-SP28), homologous to the NH2-terminal sequence of the beta-protein, 2) the main amyloid component of the HCHWA-I, a variant of cystatin C, and 3) purified fraction of neurofibrillary tangles. In all cases, anti-SP28 antibody specifically stained amyloid deposits in leptomeningeal and cortical vessels and neuritic plaques. These findings demonstrate that the amyloid deposits of SCAA and aged brains are composed of a protein antigenically similar to AD, HCHWA-D, and Parkinson dementia of Guam beta-protein, suggesting that all of these clinically and etiologically different morbid conditions are pathogenetically related. On this basis, they can be tentatively grouped as beta-protein deposition diseases. In addition, we found that HCHWA-D and SCAA vessels were mainly affected, while in AD parenchymal involvement predominates. These differences in the localization and extent of beta-protein deposits may account from the predominance of vascular complications in HCHWA-D and SCAA and of dementia in AD.

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