Brain stem serotonin-synthesizing neurons in Alzheimer's disease: a clinicopathological correlation
- Cite this article as:
- Halliday, G.M., McCann, H.L., Pamphlett, R. et al. Acta Neuropathol (1992) 84: 638. doi:10.1007/BF00227741
The location and number of brain stem serotonin-synthesizing neurons were analyzed in 11 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 5 agematched controls using immunohistochemical techniques. In addition, the number of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the cortex and brain stem raphe was evaluated, as was the number of Nissl-stained raphe neurons. AD patients could be classified into two groups based on their raphe pathology; patients with such pathology (AD+) and those without (AD−). The number of large raphe neurons correlated significantly with the number of serotonin-synthesizing neurons in control material, indicating that all large neurons were serotonergic. This relationship was not apparent in AD+ patients, in whom the number of serotonin-synthesizing neurons correlated with the number of neurofibrillary tangles in the raphe of these patients. This indicates that in AD+ patients the serotonin-synthesizing neurons were selectively affected. There was no correlation between raphe and cortical pathology or raphe pathology and patient sex, age, mini-mental score or depression score, even when such scores were weighted for the interval between testing and death. There was a trend for the raphe pathology to correlate with the age of onset and duration of dementia and the Blessed dementia score in AD+ patients. Most AD+ patients with severe raphe lesions had clinical dementia only, while AD− patients had additional clinical features. The raphe lesions were more dramatic in AD+ patients with a rapid progression of symptoms.