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Hock, Christoph; Golombowski, Sidonie; Müller-Spahn, Franz; Peschel, Oliver; Riederer, Andreas; Probst, Alphonse; Mandelkow, Eva-Maria; Unger, Jürgen (1998): Histological markers in nasal mucosa of patients with Alzheimer's disease. In: European Neurology, No. 1: pp. 31-36


Neuropathological changes such as dystrophic neurites and the presence of abnormal tau protein in the olfactory system, including primary sensory cells and nerve fibres have previously been demonstrated in nasal mucosa tissue of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). These changes were detected in autopsy-derived material from histopathologically confirmed AD cases as well as in biopsy tissue from clinical severely ill AD patients. To investigate the potential usefulness for the early diagnosis of AD, we obtained biopsy tissue from olfactory mucosa from 5 clinically mild to moderate AD patients and stained for the presence of tau or beta-amyloid by immunocytochemistry using a panel of specific antibodies. No positive staining was found in any of the cases. For comparison, post-mortem olfactory tissue from AD patients with severe neuropathological changes (widespread neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid in the brain) was investigated, in these severe cases, tau immunoreactivity was found in fine nerve fibres in the lamina propria and in a few olfactory epithelial cells. These results are consistent with other reports showing that cytoskeletal changes and tau pathology in the olfactory epithelium are not primary (or specific) features of AD and may occur predominantly in late stages of the disease.