Histopathological and molecular heterogeneity among individuals with dementia associated with Presenilin mutations

Chera L. Maarouf, Ian D. Daugs, Salvatore Spina, Ruben Vidal, Tyler A. Kokjohn, R. Lyle Patton, Walter M. Kalback, Dean C. Luehrs, Douglas G. Walker, Eduardo M. Castaño, Thomas G. Beach, Bernardino Ghetti, Alex E. Roher

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31 Scopus citations


Abstract. Background. Mutations in the presenilin (PSEN) genes are associated with early-onset familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD). Biochemical characterizations and comparisons have revealed that many PSEN mutations alter γ-secretase activity to promote accumulation of toxic Aβ42 peptides. In this study, we compared the histopathologic and biochemical profiles of ten FAD cases expressing independent PSEN mutations and determined the degradation patterns of amyloid-β precursor protein (AβPP), Notch, N-cadherin and Erb-B4 by γ-secretase. In addition, the levels of Aβ40/42 peptides were quantified by ELISA. Results. We observed a wide variation in type, number and distribution of amyloid deposits and neurofibrillary tangles. Four of the ten cases examined exhibited a substantial enrichment in the relative proportions of Aβ40 over Aβ42. The AβPP N-terminal and C-terminal fragments and Tau species, assessed by Western blots and scanning densitometry, also demonstrated a wide variation. The Notch-1 intracellular domain was negligible by Western blotting in seven PSEN cases. There was significant N-cadherin and Erb-B4 peptide heterogeneity among the different PSEN mutations. Conclusion. These observations imply that missense mutations in PSEN genes can alter a range of key γ-secretase activities to produce an array of subtly different biochemical, neuropathological and clinical manifestations. Beyond the broad common features of dementia, plaques and tangles, the various PSEN mutations resulted in a wide heterogeneity and complexity and differed from sporadic AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20
JournalMolecular Neurodegeneration
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 22 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Cite this

Maarouf, C. L., Daugs, I. D., Spina, S., Vidal, R., Kokjohn, T. A., Patton, R. L., Kalback, W. M., Luehrs, D. C., Walker, D. G., Castaño, E. M., Beach, T. G., Ghetti, B., & Roher, A. E. (2008). Histopathological and molecular heterogeneity among individuals with dementia associated with Presenilin mutations. Molecular Neurodegeneration, 3(1), [20]. https://doi.org/10.1186/1750-1326-3-20