Brains of nine early and four advanced Alzheimer patients have been investigated, utilizing three approaches to specify the threshold state of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Extensive thin sectioning electron microscopy (EM) of frontal lobe biopsies, correlated with stringent clinical assessment, has demonstrated that the neuronal cytoskeleton undergoes specific transformations into paired helical filament-like (PHF-like) strands, which lead to the formation of the insoluble paracrystalline paired helical filaments (PHFs). The neurofilamentous network (NFN) transformation plays an important role in this process, whereby segregation, posttranslational modifications and reassembly of the modified components through autocrosslinking, and phase transition occur. According to our data, the threshold state can be defined as the state of irreversible segregation and posttranslational modification of the NFN and the microtubule-associated proteins. At this state, therapeutic intervention to reverse the disease process may be possible. The results indicate similarities between the formation of the paracrystals of the PHFs and the formation of the tropomyosin-like crystals of the Hirano bodies. Close relationships among PHFs and smooth endoplasmic reticulum and plasma membrane do exist. Enveloped virus-like particles have been observed in neurons containing PHFs. A possible role of these virus-like particles as an etiological agent for AD is discussed.
Cell and Tissue Research – Springer Journals
Published: May 1, 1988
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