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Ki-67 Immunoreactivity in Alzheimer's Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Disorders

Thomas W. Smith M.D., Carol F. Lippa M.D.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00005072-199505000-00002 297-303 First published online: 1 May 1995


Cell cycle-associated nuclear proteins may have more specialized functions in the adult nervous system in addition to those directly associated with cell proliferation, as suggested by a recent study showing that neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) and dystrophic neurites in Alzheimer's disease (AD) are immunoreactive for the proliferation-associated antigen p105. To further investigate this hypothesis, we studied the expression of another proliferation-associated antigen, Ki-67, in the brains of patients with AD and other neurodegenerative disorders. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections from autopsy cases of AD, Down's syndrome with dementia and AD pathology (DS/AD), Pick s disease (PiD), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), Lewy body disease (LBD), Parkinson's disease (PD), corticobasal degeneration (CBD), and young and aged normal brains, and from two surgically resected gangliogliomas were immunostained using antibodies to Ki-67 (MIB-1 clone equivalent) and tau (τ). Ki-67 staining was performed following antigen retrieval by microwave heating. Ki-67 labeled NFT that were observed in the AD, DS/AD, PiD, PSP, LBD, and PD cases, one aged normal brain, and one ganglioglioma. Ki-67 generally labeled fewer NFT compared to τ. Pick bodies, ballooned neurons (Pick cells) in CBD and PiD, and nigral corticobasal inclusions in CBD were immunoreactive for τ but not Ki-67. Neither antibody labeled cortical or subcortical Lewy bodies. Our findings suggest that Ki-67 may be involved in the pathogenesis of neurofibrillary degeneration in AD, other neurodegenerative disorders, normal aging, and neoplasms such as ganglioglioma. We postulate a possible role for Ki-67 in the production of the abnormally phosphorylated τ protein that leads to the formation of paired helical filaments within susceptible neurons.

Key Words
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cell proliferation-associated proteins
  • Ganglioglioma
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Ki-67
  • Neurofibrillary tangles