Cerebral white matter lesions (WML) encompass axonal loss and demyelination, and the pathogenesis is assumed to be small vessel disease (SVD)-related ischemia. However, WML may also result from the activation of Wallerian degeneration as a consequence of cortical Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology, i.e. hyperphosphorylated tau (HPτ) and amyloid-beta (Aβ) deposition. WML seen in AD have a posterior predominance compared to non-demented individuals but it is unclear whether the pathological and molecular signatures of WML differ between these two groups. We investigated differences in the composition and aetiology of parietal WML from AD and non-demented controls. Parietal WML tissue from 55 human post-mortem brains (AD, n = 27; non-demented controls, n = 28) were quantitatively assessed for axonal loss and demyelination, as well as for cortical HPτ and Aβ burden and SVD. Biochemical assessment included Wallerian degeneration protease calpain and the myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) to proteolipid protein (PLP) ratio (MAG:PLP) as a measure of hypoperfusion. WML severity was associated with both axonal loss and demyelination in AD, but only with demyelination in controls. Calpain was significantly increased in WML tissue in AD, whereas MAG:PLP was significantly reduced in controls. Calpain levels were associated with increasing amounts of cortical AD-pathology but not SVD. We conclude that parietal WML seen in AD differ in their pathological composition and aetiology compared to WML seen in aged controls: WML seen in AD may be associated with Wallerian degeneration that is triggered by cortical AD-pathology, whereas WML in aged controls are due to ischaemia. Hence, parietal WML as seen on MRI should not invariably be interpreted as a surrogate biomarker for SVD as they may be indicative of cortical AD-pathology, and therefore, AD should also be considered as the main underlying cause for cognitive impairment in cases with parietal WML.
Acta Neuropathologica – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 21, 2017
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud