Immune reactive cells in senile plaques and cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease

Anne K. Vehmas, Claudia H. Kawas, Walter F. Stewart, Juan C. Troncoso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


We examined the associations of postmortem neocortical immunoreactivities for microglia, astrocytes, Aβ and Tau with cognitive changes in clinically characterized subjects with pathological diagnoses (CERAD classification) of definite AD (9), possible AD (15) and age-matched controls (11). By measuring the fractional area (FA) of immunoreactivity, we found that Aβ deposits appear early in the pathogenesis of Aβ, but cannot account for cognitive decline. We found a significant increases in FA for microglia in possible AD cases (nondemented) compared to controls (P<0.05) and in FA for astrocytes in definite AD (demented) compared to possible AD (P<0.01). Tau immunoreactivity was observed only in the neuropil of definite AD cases (P<0.001). The significant increase in microglia between controls and AD possible cases suggests that activation of microglia occurs in the early pathogenesis of AD, whereas the significant association between astrocytic reaction and dementia, suggests that these cells play a role in the late stage of the disease, when dementia develops. Tau immunoreactivity appears as the strongest morphological correlate of dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-331
Number of pages11
JournalNeurobiology of aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Astrocyte
  • Aβ-peptide
  • Dementia
  • Immunity
  • Microglia
  • Tau-protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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