Neuropathology and applied neurobiology

Synaptic protein levels altered in vascular dementia.

PMID 25559750


Cerebral ischaemia is the defining pathophysiological abnormality in most forms of vascular dementia (VAD), but the pathogenesis of the dementia remains poorly understood. In Alzheimer's disease (AD), there is early loss of synaptic proteins, but these have been little studied in VAD. We measured synaptophysin, postsynaptic density protein 95 (PSD-95), drebrin, synaptosomal-associated protein 25 (SNAP-25) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays in superior temporal cortex from 11 patients with VAD and, initially, 11 non-dementia controls. We corrected for neuronal content by measurement of neuron-specific enolase. A further 11 controls were subsequently used in a validation study. Simulation of post-mortem delay found that PSD-95 was stable at 4°C but declined slightly at RT. SNAP-25 and drebrin showed good post-mortem stability. Previous studies had shown good post-mortem preservation of synaptophysin and VEGF. The VAD cases had lower synaptophysin (but P > 0.05 in initial study), significantly lower SNAP-25 (P = 0.024) and significantly higher drebrin (P = 0.020). On comparison with the second control group, the reduction in synaptophysin was significant (P = 0.008), and the other results were confirmed. There is probably a reduction in presynaptic proteins in the temporal cortex in VAD, although not as marked as in AD. In VAD, there is also an increase in drebrin, which may be a response to reduced synaptic input.