The etiology of late-onset Alzheimer disease is poorly understood. Predisposing factors such as the apolipoprotein E4 allele, as well as protective factors (e.g., antioxidants) have been proposed to play a role in the disease's process. A search for predisposing factors contributing to sporadic late-onset Alzheimer disease was initiated using the differential display technique. RNA expression profiles of the entorhinal cortex and the cerebellum of Alzheimer-diseased and normal patients were compared. The entorhinal cortex is the first brain region to accumulate neurofibrillary tangles during disease progression, whereas the cerebellum is spared. In the Alzheimer cases of this study, one signal showing preferential expression in the entorhinal cortex corresponded to the apolipoprotein D gene. This preferential expression might be genuine at the RNA level as suggested by the in situ hybridization method used. In addition, immunohistochemical experiments showed higher percentages of Apolipoprotein D reactive pyramidal neurons in the entorhinal cortex and region 1 of Ammon's horn in diseased patients. This increase correlated with the number of neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer as well as in normal patients. Colocalization of Apolipoprotein D proteins and neurofibrillary tangles in the same neuron was rare. Thus, these results suggest that in Alzheimer disease and aging, apolipoprotein D gene expression is increased in stressed cortical neurons before they possibly accumulate neurofibrillary tangles.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.