Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary The microglial cell has been demonstrated as component of the cerebral amyloid plaque of Alzheimer's disease. Involvement of microglia in plaques of another cerebral amyloidosis, the Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome (GSS), has found little attention. We examine here the presence of microglia in GSS plaques by immunohistochemistry and transmission electron microscopy. Paraffin sections from five brains of patients with GSS were immunolabelled with antibodies against prion protein, A4/β amyloid protein, ferritin, leukocyte common antigen, HLA-DR, CD 68, and the MAC387 epitope for microglia and monocytes/macrophages; microglia was also labelled with the Ricinus communis agglutinin-1 lectin. Such (immuno)labelling demonstrated many delicate cell processes and occasional somata within and around prion protein plaques in all GSS brains. Microglial immunoreactivity was strongest with anti-ferritin and variable with anti-macrophage antibodies. Ultrastructural examination of brain tissue from one autopsy and one biopsy of GSS identified microglial cells in close proximity of amyloid plaque fibrils. Our observations demonstrate microglia as an important component of the amyloid plaque in GSS and suggest a major role for microglia in processing and deposition, or at least organization, of prion protein amyloid. Thus, plaques in both transmissible and nontransmissible cerebral amyloidoses seem to develop via similar pathogenetic mechanisms, irrespective of differences in etiology and molecular composition of the amyloid.
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