Activated forms of astrocytes with higher GLT-1 expression are associated with cognitive normal subjects with Alzheimer pathology in human brain

Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 26;8(1):1712. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-19442-7.


Although the cognitive impairment in Alzheimer's disease (AD) is believed to be caused by amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), several postmortem studies have reported cognitive normal subjects with AD brain pathology. As the mechanism underlying these discrepancies has not been clarified, we focused the neuroprotective role of astrocytes. After examining 47 donated brains, we classified brains into 3 groups, no AD pathology with no dementia (N-N), AD pathology with no dementia (AD-N), and AD pathology with dementia (AD-D), which represented 41%, 21%, and 38% of brains, respectively. No differences were found in the accumulation of Aβ plaques or NFTs in the entorhinal cortex (EC) between AD-N and AD-D. Number of neurons and synaptic density were increased in AD-N compared to those in AD-D. The astrocytes in AD-N possessed longer or thicker processes, while those in AD-D possessed shorter or thinner processes in layer I/II of the EC. Astrocytes in all layers of the EC in AD-N showed enhanced GLT-1 expression in comparison to those in AD-D. Therefore these activated forms of astrocytes with increased GLT-1 expression may exert beneficial roles in preserving cognitive function, even in the presence of Aβ and NFTs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / analysis
  • Astrocytes / enzymology*
  • Astrocytes / pathology*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2
  • Female
  • Glutamate Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / pathology


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2
  • Glutamate Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • SLC1A2 protein, human