Key words Senile plaques
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Interleukin-6 (IL-6) immunoreactivity has previously been shown in plaques in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and elevated IL-6 concentrations have been measured biochemically in brains of AD patients. In this study, we investigated the appearance of IL-6 immunoreactivity in AD plaques according to the stage of plaque formation. Using the Bielschowsky silver-staining method, we were able to differentiate between four types of plaques described earlier: diffuse, primitive, classic and compact. While diffuse plaques represent the early stage of plaque formation, primitive and classic plaques are thought to represent later stages of plaque development. We investigated serial sections of paraffin-embedded cortices of ten clinically diagnosed and histopathologically confirmed AD patients and ten patients with no clinical history of dementia. We found plaques in the brains of both nondemented and demented persons using the silver staining method or immunohistochemistry with antibodies against the amyloid precursor protein. In the group of clinically nondemented persons, diffuse plaques were the predominant plaque type, whereas primitive plaques formed the larger portion of lesions in the group of AD brains. IL-6 could not be detected in plaques of patients without dementia. Many IL-6-positive plaques were found in six of the AD brains and to a smaller extent in the other four AD cases. In the six cases with a large number of IL-6-positive plaques, IL-6 was found in a significantly higher ratio of diffuse plaques than expected from a random distribution of IL-6 in all plaque types. We conclude from these findings that IL-6 immunoreactivity correlates with clinical dementia and that in AD patients, an IL-6-related immunological event may contribute to plaque formation. IL-6 might be involved both in the transformation from diffuse to primitive plaques in AD as well as in the development of dementia.
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