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J Mol Neurosci. 1997 Dec;9(3):151-66.

Na,K-ATPase mRNA levels and plaque load in Alzheimer's disease.

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Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience Laboratory, Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Affairs Hospital, IL 60141, USA.


The expression of Na,K-ATPase alpha 1- and alpha 3-mRNAs was analyzed by in situ hybridization in the superior frontal cortex and cerebellum of brains from five Alzheimer's disease (AD), five nondemented age-matched, and three young control subjects. Brains with well-preserved RNA, tested by Northern hybridization of immobilized RNA with [32P]-labeled human beta-actin riboprobe, were chosen for analysis. In situ hybridization was performed on formalin-fixed, 5 microns-thick Paraplast sections with [35S]-labeled riboprobes prepared by in vitro transcription of the respective linearized clones: a 537-bp EcoRI-PstI fragment of alpha 1-cDNA and a 342-bp PstI-EcoRI fragment of alpha 3-cDNA. In cortex, grains related to mRNA were measured by density per unit area in five cortical columns separated by 1.0-1.2 cm in each of two adjacent sections. Each cortical column of 180-micron width was divided into four depths orthogonal to the pial surface between the pia and the white matter. Amyloid plaques were counted in the same regions of adjacent sections. In addition, alpha 3-mRNA grain clusters over individual pyramidal neurons within depth 4 were analyzed. We found the following significant changes (p < 0.05): 1. Increases in total alpha 1-mRNA by 13-19% in AD compared to young and by 7-12% in AD compared to age-matched controls. 2. Decrease in total alpha 3-mRNA by 31-38% in AD compared to young and age-matched controls. 3. Decrease in alpha 3-mRNA content over individual pyramidal perikarya by 14% in normal aged brains without plaques compared to young controls, and by 44% in AD relative to young controls and by 35% compared to age-matched controls. No significant difference (p < 0.2) was found with respect to alpha 1- or alpha 3-mRNA in cerebellar cortex or individual Purkinje cells among any of the groups. In addition, there was a trend toward an inverse correlation between the levels of alpha 3-mRNA and of diffuse plaques, but not of neuritic plaques, in AD cases.


1. The increases in alpha 1-mRNA in AD may be related to an increased reactive gliosis. 2. The declines in alpha 3-mRNA per individual neuron found in normal aging occur prior to the formation of diffuse plaques and are greatly accelerated in AD. 3. The declines in alpha 3-mRNA per neuron found in normal aging may predispose to or potentiate AD pathogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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