A double-labeling immunohistochemical study of tau exon 10 in Alzheimer’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy and Pick’s disease
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Neurofibrillary tangles (NFT), one of the histopathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and Pick bodies in Pick’s disease (PiD) are composed of microtubule-associated protein tau, which is the product of alternative splicing of a gene on chromosome 17. Alternative expression of exon 10 leads to formation of three- or four-repeat tau isoforms. To study the differential expression of exon 10, we performed double-labeling immunohistochemistry of the hippocampal formation in nine AD, four PSP and three PiD cases. Cryostat sections were processed with and without formic acid (FA) treatment, and double-stained with anti-tau (Alz-50 or PHF-1) or anti-amyloid P component antibodies and one of two specific anti-exon 10 antibodies (E-10). The effect of proteinase-K treatment was also evaluated. The results suggest the following. First, in AD, E-10 immunoreactivity is present in most intracellular NFT, but not in most dystrophic neurites and neuropil threads, suggesting differential expression of tau isoforms in specific cellular domains. Second, in AD, E-10 immunoreactivity is lost or blocked in most extracellular NFT, possibly due to proteolysis. Third, in PSP, E-10 immunoreactivity is hidden or blocked in NFT and tau-positive glial inclusions, but FA treatment exposes the epitope consistent with the hypothesis that PSP inclusions contain four-repeat tau. Fourth, E-10 immunoreactivity is present in dentate fascia NFT in AD and PSP, but not in Pick bodies in the dentate fascia or other areas. The results suggest that expression of exon 10 in tau is specific for cellular domains in a disease-specific manner.
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