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Nature. 1980 Nov 20;288(5788):279-80.

Reduced somatostatin-like immunoreactivity in cerebral cortex from cases of Alzheimer disease and Alzheimer senile dementa.


Both Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia of the Alzheimer type (AD/SDAT) are progressive dementias characterized neuropathologically by the presence in the cerebral cortex of numerous neurofibrillary tangles and neuritic plaques. We use the abbreviation AD/SDAT to denote all such cases, irrespective of age of onset. Studies of neurotransmitter-related parameters in autopsied brain tissues from patients with AD/SDAT have, to date, been confined to five putative transmitter systems. Acetycholine-releasing neurones seem to be most markedly and consistently affected, as judged by the extensive reductions in choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and acetylcholinesterase activities that have been reported. Despite numerous studies, there is no consistent evidence for the involvement of neurones releasing dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin, or gamma-aminobutyric acid in AD/SDAT, nor for loss of muscarinic cholinergic receptors. Thus, the involvement of cholinergic neurones in AD/SDAT seems to be specific. However, the possible involvement of neurones using other chemicals as transmitters has yet to be explored. The recent recognition of the existence of so-called 'peptidergic neurones' in the mammalian brain (for review see ref. 8) and the availability of radioimmunoassay (RIA) techniques for studying these peptides, have led us to begin a systematic investigation of neuropeptides in autopsied brain tissue from cases of AD/SDAT, and from neurologically normal individuals. We report here results obtained with a RIA for somatostatin, showing that somatostatin-like immunoreactivity in the cerebral cortex is reduced in tissue from AD/SDAT patients.

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