Melanotransferrin is produced by senile plaque-associated reactive microglia in Alzheimer’s disease.

Melanotransferrin (MTf), also known as p97, has been localized in capillary endothelial cells of human brain. In Alzheimer’s-diseased (AD) brain tissues, reactive microglial cells located in senile plaques exhibit elevated levels of MTf. The localization of the p97 protein may reflect its site of synthesis or could reflect a paracrine site of action. We examined the expression of MTf mRNA by in situ hybridization histochemistry using AD and healthy brain tissues. We also examined normal liver tissues by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization.

In all the brain tissues examined, capillaries had positive signals for MTf mRNA. In AD tissues, expression of MTf mRNA appeared in reactive microglial cells in the grey matter specifically associated with dense plaques. In liver tissues, immunohistochemistry using anti-p97 antibody demonstrated that sinusoids were positively stained. In addition, in situ hybridization histochemistry revealed that hepatocytes had positive signals.

These results suggest that p97 expression in reactive microglial cells are closely related to AD pathology. These results also support the notion that p97, which appears elevated in the cerebral spinal fluid and serum of AD patients, originates in the reactive microglia associated with dense senile plaques. Thus, p97 is a unique cellular hallmark of AD and further suggests that metal transport mechanisms play a role in this disease.

Source: Brain Res 1999 Oct 16;845(1):1-5

PMID: 10529437

(Department of Internal Medicine and Health Care, Fukuoka University, Fukuoka, Japan )

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