Neurons may live for decades with neurofibrillary tangles

Renee Morsch, William Simon, Paul D. Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

289 Scopus citations


Neurons containing neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) are one of the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer disease (AD). It is known that this population of neurons express gene products and thus function to some degree, but it is unknown how long these neurons may survive with NFT. It is also thought that the formation of NFT results in the death of neurons. Using quantitative data on neuron loss and NFT formation as a function of disease duration, we have generated a computer program that models both the degeneration of CA1 hippocampal neurons and the formation of NFT in these neurons in AD. Modeling various neuron survival times with NFT and altering selected assumptions upon which the models are based, we arrive at the conclusions that 1) CA1 hippocampal neurons survive with NFT for about 20 years, and 2) NFT may not be obligatory for death of CA1 hippocampal neurons in AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-197
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer disease
  • Neurofibrillary tangles
  • Neuron death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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