Abnormal neurofilament protein distribution and phosphorylation contributes to the cytoskeletal pathology of Alzheimer's disease. Anatomical studies suggest that cortical neurons immunoreactive for nonphosphorylated 200-kDa neurofilament are most vulnerable. We repeated these studies in formalin-fixed temporal lobe tissue from five Alzheimer's disease cases with tissue volume loss compared to five controls without tissue loss. Immunohistochemistry for nonphosphorylated and phosphorylated forms of the neurofilament protein was counterstained for Nissl substance and immuno-positive and -negative pyramidal neurons quantified using areal fraction counts. Compared with controls, cases with Alzheimer's disease had similar numbers of neurons expressing the nonphosphorylated neurofilament protein, suggesting these neurons are largely spared by the disease process. In Alzheimer's disease there was a significant increase in neurons containing phosphorylated neurofilament and tau proteins and a decrease in neurons devoid of neurofilament protein. Our results challenge the theory that neurons containing 200 kDa neurofilament are selectively vulnerable in Alzheimer's disease.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.