A confocal microscopic analysis of galaninergic hyperinnervation of cholinergic basal forebrain neurons in Alzheimer's disease

Robert Bowser, Jeffrey H. Kordower, Elliott J. Mufson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations

Abstract

The galanin (GAL) containing peptide fiber system innervates the basal forebrain and has been shown to hyperinnervate remaining cholinergic neurons in Alzheimer's disease (AD). GAL modulates the release of acetylcholine and, therefore, may depress this neurotransmitter in surviving cholinergic basal forebrain (CBF) neurons in AD. The aim of this study was to identify putative synaptic contacts between GAL immunoreactive processes and CBF neurons and evaluate whether these processes hypertrophy in AD patients. We observed by confocal laser microscopy a hyperinnervation of GAL-containing fibers in both AD and Parkinson's disease patients with concurrent AD (PD/AD). Galaninergic fibers were often seen in direct apposition to remaining CBF neurons and enwrapped cholinergic cell soma and dendrites. Our results demonstrate that GAL-containing fibers are in direct apposition to CBF neurons in normal-aged humans and that this phenotype is enhanced in AD and PD/AD, suggesting that direct synaptic contacts occur between GAL-containing fibers and CBF neurons. Because GAL can modulate acetylcholine release from cholinergic neurons, hyperinnervation of GAL fibers in AD and PD/AD patients may further decrease release of acetylcholine from remaining CBF neurons. We propose that therapies based solely on acetylcholinesterase inhibitors may be insufficient to effectively increase cortical levels of acetylcholine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-730
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Pathology
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology

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