Characteristics of alpha-synucleinopathy in centenarians

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To investigate the characteristics of alpha-synucleinopathy in the brains of centenarians, the autopsied brains and spinal cords from 23 cases were studied. Coronal slices were prepared from a section of the cerebral hemisphere, following the guidelines of the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease (AD) (CERAD) and the consensus guidelines for the clinical and pathologic diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Spinal cord specimens were prepared at each segment from the third cervical to the third sacral segment. In all cases, we performed standard stainings of hematoxylin-eosin, Klüver-Barrera, and Gallyas-Braak combined with Luxol fast blue/cresyl violet, and alpha-synuclein (AS), phosphorylated tau (AT8) and beta-amyloid protein immunostainings. One-way ANOVA analysis, Chi-square or Fisher exact test were used for statistical analysis. Overall, AS-positive structures were found in 8 (34.8%) of our 23 centenarians, 6 (35.3%) of 17 demented patients, and four (40%) out of ten AD patients. The frequencies of AS lesions in the brains with senile plaque (SP) stage 0-A, B, and C were 27.7, 33, and 50%, respectively. No statistical differences were found among the frequencies of AS lesions in the subgroups of NFT stages I-II, III-IV, and V-VI (P=0.478). Most cases showed a widespread distribution of AS-positive structures except for one patient, in whose brain only the medulla was involved. The distribution pattern of AS-positive lesions was similar to that in Parkinson's disease or DLB, but the pigmented neurons in substantia nigra were relatively well preserved. Our findings indicate that there is a high frequency of alpha-synucleinopathy in centenarians, SP-positive and AS-positive lesions may involve a synergistic interaction.

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