Pathological features of cerebral cortical capillaries are doubled in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
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Cerebral capillaries represent a major interface between the general circulation and the central nervous system and are responsible for sufficient and selective nutrient transport to the brain. Structural damage or dysfunctioning carrier systems of such an active barrier leads to compromised nutrient trafficking. Subsequently, a decreased nutrient availability in the neural tissue may contribute to hampered neuronal metabolism, hence to behavioral and cognitive functional deficiencies. Here we focus on the ultrastrucutral abnormalities of cerebral microvessels in Alzheimer’s disease (AD; n = 5) and Parkinson’s diseasse (PD; n = 10). The capillary microanatomy in samples from the cingulate cortex was investigated by electron microscopy and severe damage to the vessel walls was observed. Characteristic pathological changes including capillary basement membrane thickening and collagen accumulation in the basement membrane were enhanced in both AD and PD. The incidence of capillaries with basement membrane deposits was two times higher in AD and PD than in age-matched controls. Degenerative pericytes in all groups appeared at a similar frequency. The data indicate that basement membrane deposists, as opposed to pericytic degeneration, represent an important pathological feature of AD and PD and suggest that capillary dysfunction may play a causal role in the development of these two major neurodegenerative diseases.
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