1. Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA
2. Inserm U837, JPARC, Bat. G. Biserte, 1 place de Verdun, 59045 Lille cedex, France
3. Laboratory of Biosystems and Cancer, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA
4. College of Sciences, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78249, USA
In Alzheimer disease, neuronal degeneration and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles correlate with the severity of cognitive decline. Neurofibrillary tangles contain the antigenic profile of many cell cycle markers, reflecting a re-entry into the cell cycle by affected neurons. However, while such a cell cycle re-entry phenotype is an early and consistent feature of Alzheimer disease, the mechanisms responsible for neuronal cell cycle are unclear. In this regard, given that a dysregulated cell cycle is a characteristic of cancer, we speculated that alterations in oncogenic proteins may play a role in neurodegeneration. To this end, in this study, we examined brain tissue from cases of Alzheimer disease for the presence of BRCA1, a known regulator of cell cycle, and found intense and specific localization of BRCA1 to neurofibrillary tangles, a hallmark lesion of the disease. Analysis of clinically normal aged brain tissue revealed systematically less BRCA1, and surprisingly in many cases with apparent phosphorylated tau-positive neurofibrillary tangles, BRCA1 was absent, yet BRCA1 was present in all cases of Alzheimer disease. These findings not only further define the cell cycle reentry phenotype in Alzheimer disease but also indicate that the neurofibrillary tangles which define Alzheimer disease may have a different genesis from the neurofibrillary tangles of normal aging.
Keywords: Alzheimer disease, BRCA1, cell cycle, oncogenesis