UV light-induced autofluorescence of full-length Abeta-protein deposits in the human brain
Clin Neuropathol 21(1): 35-40
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The formation of amyloid plaques is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Amyloid plaques and vascular amyloid deposits in cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) consist of the beta-amyloid protein (Abeta) in association with other proteins. These Abeta-deposits can be visualized by thioflavin S, Congo red staining, silver staining methods and immunohistochemistry. Senile plaques also have been shown to exhibit blue autofluorescence. Here we report that UV light-induced autofluorescence is restricted to full-length Abeta-containing amyloid plaques and is also seen in blood vessels affected by CAA. Different types of samples from AD and control cortices were examined: native samples, formalin-fixed paraffin and polyethylene glycol-embedded tissue sections. These samples were viewed with a fluorescence microscope under UV light excitation (360 - 370 nm). By emitting blue fluorescence (>420 nm), amyloid plaques and blood vessels affected by CAA were detected in AD and CAA samples. Combination with immunofluorescence against anti-Abeta1-42, anti-Abeta17-24, and anti-Abeta8-17 demonstrated co-localization of the autofluorescent deposits with full-length Abeta containing Abeta-deposits. N-terminal truncated Abeta-deposits, such as the fleecy amyloid, do not exhibit autofluorescence. In doing so, Abeta-autofluorescence is a suitable method for screening native tissue samples for full-length Abeta-deposits. In contradistinction to conventional and immunohistochemical procedures, detection of plaques and CAA by autofluorescence enables the recognition of full-length Abeta-deposits in the human brain without any chemical interaction whatsoever on the part of Abeta.