Selective loss of cholinergic neurons in the ventral striatum of patients with Alzheimer disease

S. Lehericy, E. C. Hirsch, P. Cervera, L. B. Hersh, J. J. Hauw, M. Ruberg, Y. Agid

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Cholinergic neurons were studied by immunohistochemistry with an antiserum against human choline acetyltransferase in the caudate nucleus, putamen, and ventral striatum (including the nucleus accumbens) of three patients with Alzheimer disease and three control subjects. Immunoreactive cell bodies were mapped and counted. In the ventral striatum of patients with Alzheimer disease, a 60% decrease in the number of cholinergic neurons was observed, whereas in the caudate nucleus and putamen values for control subjects and patients were similar. To determine whether all neurons in the ventral striatum were affected, neuropeptide Y-containing neurons were also immunostained, mapped, and counted. The number of these neurons was the same in control subjects and patients with Alzheimer disease, indicating that neuronal loss is not generalized in the ventral striatum and may be specific to the cholinergic population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8580-8584
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1989

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