Exclusive association and simultaneous appearance of congophilic plaques and AT8-positive dystrophic neurites in Tg2576 mice suggest a mechanism of senile plaque formation and progression of neuritic dystrophy in Alzheimer's disease.Acta Neuropathol 2004; 108(5):435-42AN
Progression of neuritic dystrophy is a histological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in addition to amyloid deposition and neurofibrillary tangle formation. Dystrophic neurites (DNs) are abnormal neurites, and are closely associated with amyloid deposits. To clarify the process of DN formation, we immunohistochemically investigated phosphorylated tau (AT8 and Ser396)-positive DNs and plaques in Tg2576 mice overexpressing human beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP) with the Swedish type mutation (K670N/M671L). AT8-positive DNs were exclusively associated with the Congo red-positive plaques examined, and all Abeta(1-40)-positive plaques appeared to be associated with AT8-positive DNs, whereas there were no AT8-positive DNs with Abeta(1-42)-positive/Abeta(1-40)-negative plaques. Since we have previously shown that Abeta(1-42)-positive plaque precede Abeta(1-40) deposition, the appearance of congophilic structures is also late. Quantitative analyses were performed on AT8-positive DNs that were associated with congophilic plaques in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus (more than 1,000 plaques). The number of congophilic plaques increased dramatically with age. The area of DNs in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus increased 120- and 60-fold from 11-13 to 20.5 months of age, respectively. Interestingly, the mean ratio of DN area to congophilic plaque area in every plaque was unchanged, approximately 10%, through the ages examined. The mean plaque size was stable with age in both the cortex and hippocampus. These data suggest that the formation of AT8-positive DNs is simultaneous with Congo red-positive plaque development, and that the event may be closely related in the pathological progression of AD.