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Distribution of Active Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3β (GSK-3β) in Brains Staged for Alzheimer Disease Neurofibrillary Changes

Jin-Jing Pei MD, PhD, Eva Braak PhD, Heiko Braak MD, PhD, Inge Grundke-Iqbal PhD, Khalid Iqbal PhD, Bengt Winblad MD, PhD, Richard F. Cowburn PhD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00005072-199909000-00011 1010-1019 First published online: 1 September 1999

Abstract

Accumulation of paired helical filaments (PHFs) in neurofibrillary tangles, neuropil threads, and dystrophic neurites is one of the major ncuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer disease (AD). The principal protein subunit of PHFs is the abnormally hyperphosphorylated tau. Glycogen synthase kinase 3B (GSK-3B) is one of the candidate kinases involved in PHF-tau formation. To play a role in PHF-tau formation, it would be expected that GSK-3B is active in tangle bearing neurons. In the present study, we investigated the regional and intracellular distributions of active and inactive forms of GSK-3B in brains staged for neurofibrillary changes. We found that neurons with tangle-like inclusions positive for active, but not inactive, GSK-3β appear initially in the Pre-α layer of the entorhinal cortex and extend to other brain regions, coincident with the sequence of the development of neurofibrillary changes. Active, but not inactive, GSK-3β was found to initially accumulate in the cytoplasm of pretangle neurons. These data provide direct in situ evidence that is consistent with the involvement of GSK-3β in PHF-tau formation.

Key Words
  • Alzheimer disease
  • Glycogen synthase kinase 3β
  • Neurofibrillary changes