Neuronal expression of vimentin in the Alzheimer's disease brain may be part of a generalized dendritic damage-response mechanism

Brain Res. 2009 Nov 17;1298:194-207. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.08.072. Epub 2009 Sep 1.


Early pathological features of Alzheimer's disease (AD) include synaptic loss and dendrite retraction, prior to neuronal loss. How neurons respond to this evolving AD pathology remains elusive. In the present study, we used single- and double-label immunohistochemistry to investigate the relationship between neuronal vimentin expression and local brain pathology. Vimentin was localized to neuronal perikarya and dendrites in AD brain, with vimentin-immunopositive neurons prevalent in regions exhibiting intra- and extracellular beta-amyloid(1-42) (Abeta42) deposition. Neuronal co-localization of vimentin and Abeta42 was common in the cerebral cortex, cerebellum and hippocampus. Additionally, neurons in affected brain regions of AD transgenic (Tg2576) mice and in brain tissue subjected to mechanical injury expressed vimentin, while those in comparable regions of control mouse brain did not. Finally, we show that neurons in human fetal brain express vimentin concurrently with periods of rapid neurite extension. Overall, our results suggest that neurons express vimentin as part of an evolutionarily conserved, damage-response mechanism which recapitulates a developmental program used by differentiating neurons to establish dendrites and synaptic connections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Dendrites / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / metabolism
  • Plaque, Amyloid / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Vimentin / metabolism*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Vimentin