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Astrocytes in Alzheimer's disease express immunoreactivity to the vaso-constrictor endothelin-1

Journal of the Neurological Sciences
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0022-510x(94)90057-4
  • Alzheimer'S Disease
  • Astrocytes
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Endothelin-1
  • Human Brain
  • Medicine


Abstract The avidin-biotin peroxidase complex method and a polyclonal antiserum were used to investigate the distribution of endothelin-1-like immunoreactivity of cerebral astrocytes in autopsy cases of Alzheimer's disease compared with controls. The cases of Alzheimer's disease presented numerous astrocytes with intense endothelin-1-like immunoreactivity of the cell body often extending into the finest ramifications of the cell processes. Absorption of the antiserum by the corresponding antigen eliminated this immunostaining. The immunoreactive astrocytes were most consistently present in the subcortical white matter of the cerebral hemispheres and the folia of the cerebellum. The immunoreactive cells were often located in small clusters close to blood vessels. Five of the seven cases showed immunoreactive astrocytes in the molecular layer of the cerebral cortex and three of the seven cases presented regions in which immunoreactive astrocytes appeared to be located in the periphery of plaques. The pons contained small groups of immunoreactive astrocytes in five of the cases. The cerebellum had such cells in six of the seven investigated patients. Immunoreactive astrocytes were very rare in control cases without cerebral disease. Many nerve cells in the cerebral neocortex, hippocampus, cerebellum and pons of Alzheimer cases and controls exhibited endothelin-1-like immunoreactivity. Oligodendrocytes and endothelial cells of blood vessels of controls and Alzheimer cases did not show such immunoreactivity. The expression of endothelin-1-like immunoreactivity in astrocytes of Alzheimer's disease probably reflects an increased content of endothelin-1. If endothelin-1 is released from such astrocytes it may reach smooth muscle cells of the intracerebral blood vessels and disturb micro-circulation since this compound is a most powerful vasoconstrictor peptide.

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