Cellular localization of messenger RNA encoding amyloid-beta-protein in normal tissue and in Alzheimer disease.

D. E. Schmechel, D. Goldgaber, D. S. Burkhart, J. R. Gilbert, D. C. Gajdusek, A. D. Roses

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene encodes the short peptide fragment amyloid-beta-protein present in senile plaque cores, cerebrovascular amyloid, and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer disease (AD). Using in situ hybridization with biotin-labeled RNA probes, we found distinctive patterns of APP gene expression in different regions of postmortem human brain. Strong hybridization signal for APP messenger RNA (mRNA) was detected in specific classes of neurons, fascicular oligodendroglia, satellite glia, and presumptive microglia. Weaker signal was seen in other neuronal classes, fascicular astrocytes, and vascular endothelial cells, but no signal was seen in protoplasmic astrocytes. Human thymus also shows a restricted pattern of hybridization with high signal in reticular epithelial cells, and much lower signal in lymphocytes. In AD patients, neuronal hybridization for APP mRNA was specifically increased in hippocampus, but not cerebellar and visual cortex when compared to hybridization for neuron-specific enolase mRNA. Most neurons with neurofibrillary tangles had strong APP mRNA signal. These results suggest that APP gene expression is highly regulated in normal tissue, that many different cell classes in brain express the APP gene, and that neuronal expression may increase specifically in brain regions where widespread injury occurs in AD. Amyloid deposits in brains of AD patients might be explained by local production of precursor protein in endothelial cells, neurons or glia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-111
Number of pages16
JournalAlzheimer disease and associated disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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