The loss of cortical cholinergic innervation in senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (SDAT) is associated with cell loss in the nucleus basalis and related cell groups (magnocellular basal nucleus, MBN). We examined MBN in Nissl-acetylcholinesterase- and thioflavin S-stained sections in two cases of SDAT and in four control brains. Using these sensitive methods, senile plaques were easily demonstrated in MBN, and most MBN neurons showed neurofibrillary degeneration as an early change. Cell loss appeared to be due to maturation of neurofibrillary tangles, displacing normal cellular contents. In contrast to theories that the cell loss in MBN represents retrograde degeneration due to axonal injury in the cerebral cortex, MBN neuronal perikarya may be involved by the same primary processes as cortical neurons.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology