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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1996 Dec;55(12):1210-20.

Distinct patterns of neuronal loss and Alzheimer's disease lesion distribution in elderly individuals older than 90 years.

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Department of Psychiatry, HUG Belle-Idée, University of Geneva School of Medicine, Switzerland.


To explore the characteristics of brain aging in very old individuals, we performed a quantitative analysis of neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) and senile plaque (SP) distribution and neuron densities in 13 nondemented patients, 15 patients with very mild cognitive impairment, and 22 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), all older than 96 years of age. Non-demented cases displayed substantial NFT formation in the CAI field and entorhinal cortex only. Very mild cognitive impairment cases were characterized by the presence of high NFT densities in layers V and VI of area 20, and AD cases had very high NFT densities in the CAI field compared to nondemented cases. Moreover, high SP densities were found in areas 9 and 20 in AD, but not in cases with very mild cognitive impairment and nondemented cases. In contrast to previous reports concerning younger demented patients, neuron densities were preserved in the CAI field, dentate hilus, and subiculum in centenarians with AD. In these cases, there was a marked neuronal loss in layers II and V of the entorhinal cortex, and in areas 9 and 20. In the present series, no correlation was found between neurofibrillary tangle and neuron densities in the areas studied, whereas there was a negative correlation between senile plaque and neuron densities in area 20. The comparison between the present data and those reported previously concerning younger cohorts suggests that there is a differential cortical vulnerability to the degenerative process near the upper age-limit of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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