Carbonyl-Related Posttranslational Modification of Neurofilament Protein in the Neurofibrillary Pathology of Alzheimer's Disease


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. M. A. Smith at Department of Neuropathology, Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, 2085 Adelbert Road, Cleveland, OH 44106, U.S.A.


Abstract: We present the first evidence for carbonyl-related posttranslational modifications of neurofilaments in the neurofibrillary pathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Two distinct monoclonal antibodies that consistently labeled neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), neuropil threads, and granulovacuolar degeneration in sections of AD tissue also labeled the neurofilaments within axons of the white matter following modification by reducing sugars, glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, or malondialdehyde. The epitope recognized by these two antibodies shows a strict dependency for carbonyl modification of the neurofilament heavy subunit. The in vivo occurrence of this neurofilament modification in the neurofibrillary pathology of AD suggests that carbonyl modification is associated with a generalized cytoskeletal abnormality that may be critical in the pathogenesis of neurofibrillary pathology. Furthermore, the data presented here support the idea that extensive posttranslational modifications, including oxidative stress-type mechanisms, through the formation of cross-links, might account for the biochemical properties of NFTs and their resistance to degradation in vivo.