Eye lenses from human donors with and without Alzheimer's disease (AD) were studied to evaluate the presence of amyloid in cortical cataract. We obtained 39 lenses from 21 postmortem donors with AD and 15 lenses from age-matched controls provided by the Banco de Ojos para Tratamientos de la Ceguera (Barcelona, Spain). For 17 donors, AD was clinically diagnosed by general physicians and for 4 donors the AD diagnosis was neuropathologically confirmed. Of the 21 donors with AD, 6 had pronounced bilateral cortical lens opacities and 15 only minor or no cortical opacities. As controls, 7 donors with pronounced cortical opacities and 8 donors with almost transparent lenses were selected. All lenses were photographed in a dark field stereomicroscope. Histological sections were analyzed using a standard and a more sensitive Congo red protocol, thioflavin staining and beta-amyloid immunohistochemistry. Brain tissue from two donors, one with cerebral amyloid angiopathy and another with advanced AD-related changes and one cornea with lattice dystrophy were used as positive controls for the staining techniques. Thioflavin, standard and modified Congo red staining were positive in the control brain tissues and in the dystrophic cornea. Beta-amyloid immunohistochemistry was positive in the brain tissues but not in the cornea sample. Lenses from control and AD donors were, without exception, negative after Congo red, thioflavin, and beta-amyloid immunohistochemical staining. The results of the positive control tissues correspond well with known observations in AD, amyloid angiopathy and corneas with lattice dystrophy. The absence of staining in AD and control lenses with the techniques employed lead us to conclude that there is no beta-amyloid in lenses from donors with AD or in control cortical cataracts. The inconsistency with previous studies of Goldstein et al. (2003) and Moncaster et al. (2010), both of which demonstrated positive Congo red, thioflavin, and beta-amyloid immunohistochemical staining in AD and Down syndrome lenses, is discussed. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
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