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Nucleus Raphe Dorsalis in Dementia of the Alzheimer Type: Neurofibrillary Changes and Neuronal Packing Density

Christine A. Curcio Ph.D., Thomas Kemper M.D.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00005072-198407000-00001 359-368 First published online: 1 July 1984


Within the reticulate core of the brain the nucleus raphe dorsalis (NRD) is a major site of predilection for the neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) in dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) and, according to some studies, its primary brain stem site. In a quantitative study we have shown in six aged control brains an average of 5.2 NFT per histological section or 25.8 per mm3 and in seven age-matched brains with DAT a highly significant six-fold increase, respectively 35.3 NFT per histological section or 188.5 per mm3. There was no significant difference between the two groups in overall neuronal cell packing density. There was, however, a significant decrease in a subpopulation of neurons in DAT, a large polygonal neuron. Despite the prominence of the NRD as a target for NFT, the actual proportion of affected NRD cells was small, 0.35% in controls and 2.25% in DAT

Key Words
  • Aging
  • Dementia
  • Neurofibrillary change
  • Neuronal density
  • Nucleus raphe dorsalis