Immunocytochemical studies of neurofibrillary tangles

S. C. Yen, F. Gaskin, R. D. Terry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The molecular nature of neurofibrillary tangles of senile dementia of the Alzheimer type (SDAT) was studied by immunoperoxidase and immunofluorescence techniques. Five antiserums, including anti-human-brain-2-cycle-purified-microtubule-fractions (2 x MT), anti-calf-brain-2 x MT, anti-sea-urchin-egg-tubulin, anti-beef-brain-tubulin, and anti-human-brain-neurofilament(NF)-210-kilodalton(kd)-protein were tested for their binding to neurofibrillary tangles. The anti-human-2 x MT serum stained structures resembling neurofibrillary tangles, neurites of neuritic plaques, and microglialike cells in SDAT brains, but no such staining pattern was detected in normal brain sections. In neurons isolated from SDAT brains, about 40% of the tangles were labeled by the anti-human-2 x MT serum with an identical pattern. Other antiserums tested did not preferentially bind tanglelike structures in tissue sections and bound to less than 5% of the tangles in isolated neurons. These results suggest that the antigenic sites of tubulin and NF proteins are not shared by neurofibrillary tangles. Different from the calf preparation, the human-2 x MT fractions contained a prominent protein band that was identical to ferritin in molecular weight and cross-reacted with anti-human-2 x MT and anti-human-ferritin serums. However, antiserums to this ferritinlike protein, or anti-ferritin, did not stain neurofibrillary tangles. Although neither the calf 2 x MT nor two other human MT fractions failed to elicit an antiserum that stained tangles, these fractions were able to remove the anti-human-2 x MT serum activity that binds to tangles. The data suggest that the protein (or proteins) that makes up neurofibrillary tangles of SDAT is present in various quantities in microtubule fractions of normal brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-89
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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