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Reactive microglia in aging and dementia: an immunohistochemical study of postmortem human brain tissue.

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By Overmyer M, Helisalmi S, Soininen H, Laakso M, Rie • • April 1, 1999

Significantly increased up-regulation of HLA DR (major histocompatibility complex class II antigen) was seen using immunohistochemistry in postmortem brain tissue from demented patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) (73 cases, 61 females/12 males, mean age 84 +/- 9 years) compared to controls (22 cases, 10 females/12 males, mean age 78 +/- 9 years).

The counts of HLA DR-expressing activated microglia were significantly higher in female AD patients compared to males, significantly higher in AD patients with the age at death greater than 75 years compared to those dying younger and higher, although not statistically significantly, in AD patients with the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) epsilon4 allele compared to those patients not carrying this allele. In contrast to the situation in AD patients, in the control cases the HLA DR expression was higher in males compared to females.

Furthermore, in the very old non-demented patients (age at death > 80 years), a decrease in the up-regulation of HLA DR expression was observed. A significant correlation between activated microglia and neurofibrillary tangles was seen in female AD patients compared to males, in AD cases without ApoE epsilon4 allele compared to those with this allele, in sporadic cases compared to familial and in cases with senile rather than presenile onset of the disease.

Our results indicate that there is an age- and/or sex-related variability in up-regulation of HLA DR expression of microglia and that the linkage between this up-regulation and AD lesions is significantly influenced by the ApoE epsilon4 allele, gender of subjects, age at onset and familiality of the disease.

Source: Acta Neuropathol (Berl) 1999 Apr;97(4):383-92
PMID: 10208278, UI: 99222959

(Department of Neuroscience and Neurology, Kuopio University, Finland. )

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