S100 beta protein expression in Alzheimer disease: potential role in the pathogenesis of neuritic plaques

J Neurosci Res. 1994 Nov 1;39(4):398-404. doi: 10.1002/jnr.490390406.


Increased synthesis and release of S100 beta protein from activated astrocytes has been implicated in the overgrowth of dystrophic neurites in neuritic plaques in Alzheimer disease (AD). To evaluate the quantitative relationships between tissues levels of S100 beta and the numbers of neuritic plaques in AD patients, we counted neuritic plaques, by Tau-2 immunoreactive (Tau-2+) labeling, in tissue sections of hippocampus and adjacent temporal cortex and measured the levels of S100 beta protein, by Western immunoblot labeling, in samples of analogous regions from contralateral hemisphere of the same patients. In AD, tissue levels of S100 beta (two- to fivefold that of controls) were significantly correlated with the number of Tau-2+ plaques (R = 0.82, P < .01). Dual-label immunohistochemical analysis showed that most S100 beta+ cells were activated GFAP+ astrocytes. These results were substantiated by a significant correlation between S100 beta and GFAP tissue levels (R = 0.81, P < .05). Many of the S100 beta+ astrocytes were clustered around and within Tau-2+ plaques. Indeed, no Tau-2+ plaques were found without associated activated S100 beta+ astrocytes. Our findings provide further evidence of a role for S100 beta protein in dysregulation of neurons that leads to apparently nonsensical growth of imperfect neurites in AD, a potential key element in early stages of neuritic plaque pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Autopsy
  • Blotting, Western
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / analysis
  • Dementia / metabolism
  • Dementia / pathology
  • Female
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / analysis
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Neurites / metabolism
  • Neurites / pathology*
  • Reference Values
  • Regression Analysis
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein beta Subunit
  • S100 Proteins / analysis*
  • S100 Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Temporal Lobe / metabolism
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology*


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein beta Subunit
  • S100 Proteins
  • S100B protein, human