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Inflammatory mechanisms in Alzheimer's disease


In recent years many studies have indicated an involvement of inflammatory mechanisms in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Acute-phase proteins such as α1-antichymotrypsin and c-reactive protein, elements of the complement system, and activated microglial and astroglial cells are consistently found in brains of AD patients. Most importantly, also cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) have been detected in the cortices of AD patients, indicating a local activation of components of the unspecific inflammatory system. Up to now it has remained unclear whether inflammatory mechanisms represent a primary event or only an unspecific reaction to brain tissue damage. Therefore, we investigated whether IL-6 immunoreactivity could be found in plaques prior to the onset of neuritic changes, or whether the presence of this cytokine is restricted to later stages of plaque pathology. we confirmed our previous observation that IL-6 is detectable in a significant proportion of plaques in the brains of demented patients. In AD patients IL-6 was found in diffuse plaques in a significant higher ratio as would have been expected from a random distribution of IL-6 among all plaque types. This observation suggests that IL-6 may precede neuritic changes, and that immunological mechanism may be involved both in the transformation from diffuse to neuritic plaques in AD and in the development of dementia.

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Correspondence to J. Bauer.

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Hüll, M., Berger, M., Bauer, J. et al. Inflammatory mechanisms in Alzheimer's disease. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Nuerosci 246, 124–128 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02189112

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Key words

  • Senile plaques
  • Primitive plaques
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Interleukin-6