Neuronal hemoglobin is reduced in Alzheimer's disease, argyrophilic grain disease, Parkinson's disease, and dementia with Lewy bodies

J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;23(3):537-50. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-101485.


Previous studies have demonstrated the presence of hemoglobin α-chain and β-chain in neurons of the rodent and human brain thus indicating that hemoglobin is a normal component of nerve cells and that hemoglobin may play a role in intraneuronal oxygen homeostasis. Progressing with these studies, hemoglobin expression has been examined in selected cell population in the brains of Alzheimer's disease (AD), argyrophilic grain disease (AGD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Double labeling immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy revealed reduced hemoglobin α-chain and β-chain in practically all neurons with small amounts of granular or punctuate hyperphosphorylated tau deposits and in neurons with tangles in the hippocampus and frontal cortex in AD and in the hippocampus in AGD; in ballooned neurons containing αB-crystallin in the amygdala in AD and AGD; and in about 80% of neurons with punctuate α-synuclein deposits and in neurons with Lewy bodies in the substantia nigra pars compacta and in vulnerable neurons of the medulla oblongata in PD and DLB; and in neurons with Lewy bodies in the frontal cortex in DLB. Hemoglobin immunoreactivity was also observed in the core of neuritic plaques and in diffuse plaques, but not in dystrophic neurites. Loss of hemoglobin was specific as neuroglobin was present equally in neurons with and without abnormal protein inclusions, and erythropoietin receptor was expressed equally in neurons without and in neurons with abnormal protein aggregates in AD, AGD, PD, and DLB.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lewy Body Disease / metabolism*
  • Lewy Body Disease / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology


  • Hemoglobins