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Am J Neurodegener Dis 2013;2(2):121-128

Original Article
Early age-related progression of AD-like neuropathology in Down’s
syndrome

Larry D Sparks, Richard J Kryscio, John C Hunsaker III

Roberts Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Sun City, AZ
85351, USA; Statistics and Chair, Biostatistics, Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
40536, USA; KY Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of KY
College of Medicine, OACME, CLF, Frankfort, KY 40601, USA

Received May 1, 2013; Accepted May 29, 2013; Epub June 21, 2013; Published July 1, 2013

Abstract: We have previously reported that increased numbers of Alz-50-reactive (apoptotic) neurons occurred in
young DS subjects compared to controls, but increased in density with increasing age, and in advance of identifiable
senile plaques (SP) in DS. The purpose of the study was to determine if there are further differences in Alzheimer’s
disease (AD)-like neuropathology with increasing age among individuals with Down’s syndrome (DS) compared to
cognitively normal age-matched controls. The two populations compared were age-matched normal controls (N = 14)
between 11 months and 61 years of age and individuals with DS (N = 8) between 1 and 54 years of age. There were 7
cognitively intact DS and 10 control subjects under 35 years of age. The single demented 54 year old DS subject was
compared to 4 non-demented controls between 48 and 61 years of age. 50 µm Vibratome sections of formalin fixed
hippocampal formations were immunohistochemically stained for amyloid-β (6E10), APP (22C11) and phosphorylated
tau (AT8) using standard methods. AT8 immunoreactive features were found only in the oldest DS subject. In contrast,
the number and intensity of amyloid-β-immunoreactive neurons were maximal in the youngest DS subjects (1-24
years), reduced in the young adults (25-35 years) synchronous with the appearance of only diffuse-form SP, and were
further reduced in the 54 year-old DS subject exhibiting abundant multiform SP. Distribution of APP immunoreactivity
(22C11) was distinct from amyloid-β (6E10) in appearance and by location and age in both DS and normal controls.
The data indicates that the earliest observable neuropathologic feature in DS may be neuronal accumulation of
amyloid-β. Such accumulation of amyloid-β occurs decades in advance of deposition as SP, which in turn occurs
decades before cognitive decline. (AJND1305007).

Keywords: Amyloid-β, amyloid-β precursor protein, phospho-tau

Address correspondence to: Dr. Larry D Sparks, Roberts Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, Sun
Health Research Institute, Sun City, AZ, USA. E-mail: Larry.Sparks@sunhealth.org