Cell Death in Alzheimer's Disease Evaluated by DNA Fragmentation in Situ

Acta Neuropathol. 1995;89(1):35-41. doi: 10.1007/BF00294257.


Loss of nerve cells is a hallmark of the pathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD), yet the patterns of cell death are unknown. By analyzing DNA fragmentation in situ we found evidence for cell death not only of nerve cells but also of oligodendrocytes and microglia in AD brains. In average, 30 times more brain cells showed DNA fragmentation in AD as compared to age-matched controls. Nuclear alterations suggestive of apoptosis were rare in degenerating cells. Even though the majority of degenerating cells were not located within amyloid deposits and did not contain neurofibrillary tangles, neurons situated within areas of amyloid deposits or affected by neurofibrillary degeneration revealed a higher risk of DNA fragmentation and death than cells not exposed to these AD changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / analysis
  • Cell Death
  • DNA Probes
  • Entorhinal Cortex / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Degeneration / immunology*
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / pathology


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • DNA Probes