Astrocyte hypertrophy in the Alzheimer's disease hippocampal formation.

TitleAstrocyte hypertrophy in the Alzheimer's disease hippocampal formation.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1991
JournalExperimental neurology

In Alzheimer's disease (AD), neuritic plaques are often found in the hippocampal dentate gyrus along the boundary between inner and outer molecular layers. The dentate outer molecular layer in AD also exhibits axon sprouting in response to an early loss of entorhinal neurons. The relationship between the laminar arrangement of plaques and the sprouting remains unclear. In experimental entorhinal lesions in the rat, the denervated dentate outer molecular layer demonstrates hypertrophic astrocytes which may provide trophic support for the sprouting response. It is not known whether an equivalent astrocyte response occurs in AD or whether this response is related to the distribution of plaques. We used immunohistochemical staining for glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) to demonstrate reactive astrocytes in the hippocampus in AD patients and age-matched controls. These results were compared to the astrocyte response to an experimental entorhinal lesion in the rat. Quantitative and qualitative analyses demonstrated a significant increase in GFAP-positive hypertrophic astrocytes in the dentate outer molecular layer in AD compared to controls. These astrocytes were randomly distributed within the outer layer and did not parallel the distribution of neuritic plaques. In the entorhinal-lesioned rat, reactive hypertrophied astrocytes also showed a selective distribution within the denervated outer molecular layer. Our results further support the similarity of the hippocampal response in AD and experimental entorhinal lesion but do not explain the laminar distribution of neuritic plaques along the denervated zone.

Short TitleExp Neurol
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