Immunoreactivity for Bcl-2 protein within neurons in the Alzheimer's disease brain increases with disease severity

Brain Res. 1995 Oct 30;697(1-2):35-43. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(95)00748-f.


Bcl-2 protein has been suggested to be one of the proteins preventing apoptosis in a variety of cell types. Recently, apoptosis has been suggested to have an important role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). We have utilized Bcl-2 immunohistochemical methods to examine Bcl-2 in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex of AD patients ranging in clinical and neuropathological severity from mild to severe and compared these results to those obtained from age-matched controls. Immunoreactivity for Bcl-2 was predominantly found within neurons. Bcl-2 immunostaining within AD tissue was increased relative to controls in most neurons of the entorhinal cortex, subiculum, CA1, CA2, CA3, hilus and dentate gyrus. Relative Bcl-2 staining increased in parallel with increasing disease severity. However, neurons exhibiting immunoreactivity for markers of neurofibrillary tangle formation (AT8 and PHF-1) showed reduced Bcl-2 staining, suggesting that Bcl-2 may be down regulated in these degenerating neurons. Bcl-2 immunoreactivity within astrocytes and the vasculature was also increased in AD. These results suggest that Bcl-2 protein may have a role in compensation responses to AD pathology, perhaps affording to the remaining neurons a margin of protection from apoptosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Reference Values


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2