Multiple transmitter systems contribute neurites to individual senile plaques

Lary C. Walker, Cheryl A. Kitt, Linda C. Cork, Robert G. Struble, Tammy L. Dellovade, Donald L. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Senile plaques (SP), which consist largely of abnormal neuronal processes in proximity to deposits of amyloid, are a characteristic neuropathological feature of Alzheimer’s disease. In lesser numbers, SP also occur in the brains of nondemented aged humans and nonhuman primates. To date, it is not known whether neurites in individual SP derive from neurons of one or several neurotransmitter systems. In aged monkeys, two strategies were used to test the hypothesis that individual SP can contain abnormal neurites arising from multiple neuronal systems. First, immuno- cytochemical methods were used to identify somatostatin-immunoreactive neurites in plaques, and these sections were subsequently stained with silver to visualize other neurites. Numerous plaques contained both somatostatin-positive and somatostatin- negative (i.e. argyrophilic only) neurites, suggesting that more than one transmitter system contributed neurites to each of these plaques. Second, two-color immuno- cytochemical techniques showed, in a small percentage of plaques, that cholinergic neurites coexist with neuropeptide Y (NPY)-containing neurites orcatecholaminergic neurites. These results suggest that the formation of SP may result from events that involve abnormalities of neuronal processes arising from multiple transmitter systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-144
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1988


  • Acetylcholine
  • Aging
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Catecholamines
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Plaques
  • Senile
  • Somatostatin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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