Alzheimer's disease: glutamate depletion in the hippocampal perforant pathway zone

Ann Neurol. 1987 Jul;22(1):37-40. doi: 10.1002/ana.410220110.


The perforant pathway is the primary source of cortical input to the hippocampal formation. Its cells of origin, in the entorhinal cortex, are destroyed in Alzheimer's disease. Because the principal neurotransmitter of the perforant pathway's excitatory action is thought to be glutamate, we microdissected a portion of the pathway's terminal zone and assayed the excised tissue for glutamate. There was an 83% decrease in the level of free glutamate in subjects with Alzheimer's disease as compared to control subjects not affected by dementia (p less than 0.005). We believe that this diminution in the glutamate content is a direct neurochemical correlate of perforant pathway destruction and that disruption of this crucial corticolimbic pathway contributes to the memory dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Glutamates / metabolism*
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurofibrils / pathology
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Glutamates
  • Glutamic Acid