Distinct changes in all major components of the neurovascular unit across different neuropathological stages of Alzheimer's disease
- Journal Article
In the brain capillaries, endothelial cells, pericytes, astrocytes and microglia form a structural and functional complex called neurovascular unit (NVU) which is critically involved in maintaining neuronal homeostasis. In the present study, we applied a comprehensive immunohistochemical approach to investigate the structural alterations in the NVU across different Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathological stages. Post-mortem human cortical and hippocampal samples derived from AD patients and non-demented elderly control individuals were immunostained using a panel of markers representing specific components of the NVU including Collagen IV (basement membrane), PDGFR-beta (pericytes), GFAP (astrocytes), Iba1 (microglia), MRC1 (perivascular macrophages) and lectin as an endothelial cell label. Astrocytes (GFAP) and microglia (Iba1) were quantified both in the whole visual-field and specifically within the NVU, and the sample set was additionally analyzed using anti-tau (AT8) and three different anti-A beta (clones G2-10, G2-11, 4G8) antibodies. Analyses of lectin labeled sections showed an altered vascular distribution in AD patients as revealed by a reduced nearest distance between capillaries. Within the NVU, a Braak-stage dependent reduction in pericyte coverage was identified as the earliest structural alteration during AD progression. In comparison to non-demented elderly controls, AD patients showed a significantly higher astrocyte coverage within the NVU, which was paralleled by a reduced microglial coverage around capillaries. Assessment of perivascular macrophages moreover demonstrated a relocation of these cells from leptomeningeal arteries to penetrating parenchymal vessels in AD patients. Collectively, the results of our study represent a comprehensive first in-depth analysis of AD-related structural changes in the NVU and suggest distinct alterations in all components of the NVU during AD progression. Show more
Journal / seriesBrain Pathology
Pages / Article No.
SubjectGFAP; Iba1; PDGFR‐β; MRC1; NVU; vascular dysfunction
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