Neurofibrillary tangles in cholinergic pedunculopontine neurons in Alzheimer's disease

Elliott J. Mufson, Deborah C. Mash, Louis B. Hersh

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87 Scopus citations


The cholinergic neurons located within the pedunculopontine nucleus (Ch5) of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD; n = 15), Parkinson's disease (PD; n = 2), and neurologically normal (n = 6) subjects were visualized immunohistochemically using choline acetyltransferase, pharmacohistochemically using acetylcholinesterase, or by reduced histochemical methods using nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase (NADPH‐d). Each histochemical procedure localized a well‐delineated, compact lateral group and a more diffuse medial group of neurons within the pedunculopontine nucleus. Co‐localization experiments revealed that all three enzymes Marchked the same population of cholinergic neurons. The extent of pathological alterations associated with the cholinergic neurons within the compact lateral sector of the pedunculopontine nucleus was examined in sections that reacted for NADPH‐d, counterstained with thioflavin‐S. The average number of neurofibrillary tangles within this portion of the pedunculopontine nucleus was 25.4 (range 0–70) in patients with AD, 1.5 (range 1–2) in those with PD, and 1.2 (range 0–4) in aged control subjects. Of the total number of neurofibrillary tangles counted in AD cases, 72.7% were end‐stage ghosts and 27.3% were tangle‐bearing neurons. The pathological alteration of cholinergic neurons of the compact lateral aspect of the pedunculopontine nucleus may play a role in some of the behavioral features characteristic of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-629
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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