Coexistence of reactive plasticity and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer diseased brains

Histol Histopathol. 2004 Oct;19(4):1075-84. doi: 10.14670/HH-19.1075.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a pathological process characterized by neuron degeneration and, as recently suggested, brain plasticity. In this work, we compared the reactive plasticity in AD brains associated to O-glycosydically linked glycans, recognized by lectins from Amaranthus leucocarpus (ALL) and Macrobrachium rosenbergii (MRL), and the tau neuritic degeneration. The neuritic degenerative process was evaluated by the quantification of aggregated neuritic structures. Lesions were determined using antibodies against hyperphosphorylated-tau (AD2), amyloid-beta, and synaptophysin. In these conditions, we classified and quantified three pathological structures associated to the neuritic degenerative process: 1) Amyloid-beta deposits (AbetaDs), 2) Classic neuritic plaques (NPs), and 3) Dystrophic neurites clusters (DNCs) lacking amyloid-beta deposits. Reactive plasticity structures were constituted by meganeuritic clusters (MCs) and peri-neuronal sprouting in neurons of the CA4 region of the hippocampus, immunoreactive to synaptophysin (exclusively in AD brains) and GAP-43. Besides, MCs were associated to sialylated O-glycosydically linked glycans as determined by positive labeling with ALL and MRL. Considering that these lectins are specific for the synaptic sprouting process in AD, our results suggest the co-occurrence of of several areas of reactive plasticity and neuron degeneration in AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lectins
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Plaque, Amyloid / pathology
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism


  • Lectins
  • Polysaccharides