Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 105–110 | Cite as

Ferritin is a component of the neuritic (senile) plaque in Alzheimer dementia

  • I. Grundke-Iqbal
  • J. Fleming
  • Y. -C. Tung
  • H. Lassmann
  • K. Iqbal
  • J. G. Joshi
Regular Papers


A strong immunoreactivity for ferritin was observed in the neuritic (senile) plaques in Alzheimer's disease hippocampus. The ferritin accumulation was almost exclusively associated with the microglia, which appeared to have proliferated greatly. These cells were also positive for HLA-DR, a putative marker for reactive microglia. In contrast, in the diffuse plaques, which were without neuritic pathology, the ferritin-stained microglia appeared to be normal. Microglia were seen frequently in contact with neurons undergoing neurofibrillary changes but only the tangles in the extracellular space were ferritin positive. No ferritin was detected, by Western blots, in paired helical filaments isolated from Alzheimer's disease brain, suggesting that ferritin was most likely weakly associated with and was not a constituent of these fibrils. No correlation between increased ferritin/microglia activity and blood-brain barrier leakage was detected. Ferritin, an iron-storage protein, might have a role in the formation of amyloid through the action of free radicals generated during the release of iron from the ferritin molecule. Alternatively, the ferritin/microglia system might be secondarily involved in the removal and processing of the amyloid.

Key words

Microglia Amyloid Ferritin Paired helical filaments Alzheimer's disease 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Grundke-Iqbal
    • 1
  • J. Fleming
    • 2
  • Y. -C. Tung
    • 1
  • H. Lassmann
    • 3
    • 4
  • K. Iqbal
    • 1
  • J. G. Joshi
    • 2
  1. 1.New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental DisabilitiesStaten IslandUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Brain ResearchAustrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria
  4. 4.Neurological InstituteUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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