The contribution that oligosaccharides might make to the structure of the senile plaque and the neurofibrillary tangle was investigated using lectin histochemistry in 9 patients with Alzheimer's disease. One group of 4 lectins diffusely stained the neurites of senile plaques whereas two groups of 6 different lectins stained neurofibrillary tangles within neuronal perikarya and plaque neurites. Neuraminidase pretreatment abolished staining of tangles by one of these latter groups, but did not affect staining by the other group. Senile plaque core amyloid failed to stain with any lectin. It is concluded that oligosaccharides may contribute, but in different ways, to glycoprotein or glycolipid residues that form an integral part of the structure of the senile plaque and the neurofibrillary tangle. © 1988.
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