Spin label and biochemical studies of erythrocyte membranes in Alzheimer's disease

William R. Markesbery, Patrick K. Leung, D. Allan Butterfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Electron spin resonance, enzymatic, and SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoretic investigations of erythrocyte membranes from patients with Alzheimer's disease were performed. Alterations in the physical state of membrane proteins in Alzheimer's disease erythrocytes were found by spin labeling studies. However, no alterations in membrane lipid fluidity or in the activities of membrane-bound sodium plus potassium-stimulated, magnesium-dependent adenosine triphosphatase or acetylcholinesterase could be demonstrated. Also, no changes in staining profiles of AD erythrocyte membrane proteins subjected to electrophoresis were observed. The altered conformation and/or organization of extraneural membrane proteins in Alzheimer's disease suggests the possibility that this disorder may have more widespread membrane involvement than was originally thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-330
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Mar 1980

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Presenile and senile Alzheimer's disease, generally thought to represent the same disease, are the most common cause of dementia of later life (Katzman 1976). Both are referred to as Alzheimer's disease lAD\] in this report. This disorder is characterized clinically by progressive impairment of memory and other cognitive functions in addition to language deterioration (Adams and Victor 1977). Intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles and senile (neuritic) plaques are the most characteristic pathological lesions in AD (Wisniewski and Terry 1973). Recent studies have shown a deficiency of choline acetyltransferase and acetylcholinesterase in the cerebral cortex (Davies and This work was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NS-13791-02), (NS-14221-02) and the Muscular Dystrophy Association of America.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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