Presence of non-fibrillar amyloid beta protein in skin biopsies of Alzheimer's disease (AD), Down's syndrome and non-AD normal persons

G Y Wen, H M Wisniewski, H Blondal, E Benedikz, H Frey, T Pirttila, R Rudelli, K S Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A total of 66 skin biopsies from persons with Alzheimer's disease (AD) or Down's syndrome (DS) and from persons without AD were used in this study. The age range was from 7 to 89 years. Positive immunoreactivity of skin biopsies to monoclonal antibody 4G8, which is reactive to amino acid residue 17-24 of synthetic amyloid beta protein (A beta), and 4G8-Fab (the antigen-binding fragment of 4G8 IgG, reactive only to amyloid plaque) was observed in the epidermis-dermis junction or the basement membrane of the epidermis and in some blood vessels of the biopsy skins of 13/18 (72%) AD, 9/10 (90%) DS, and 14/38 (37%) non-AD control cases. The Fisher exact probability test revealed a significant difference (P = 0.0415 one-tailed) in immunoreactivity between AD and age-matched controls. There was also a significant difference (P = 0.0152 one-tailed; P = 0.0200 two-tailed) between DS and age-matched control in the same test. Immuno-gold electron microscopy examination of these cases with positive immunoreactivity revealed that the gold particles were deposited along the basement membrane of the epidermis. Amyloid fibrils were not observed in the regions with gold particles. Results of this study suggest that A beta is associated with the basement membrane of skin and is present in amorphous, non-fibrillar form as soluble A beta.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)201-6
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Biopsy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Down Syndrome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Journal Article
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Skin

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