Somatostatin immunoreactivity in neuritic plaques of Alzheimer's patients


Senile dementia of the Alzheimer's type can be diagnosed with certainty only by examining neurofibrillary tangles and neuritic plaques under the microscope1–4. Recently, it has been suggested that the condition is linked to specific neurotransmitter systems5, with a decline of cortical acetylcholine, choline acetyl-transferase5–8, cholinergic neurones projecting to the cortex9–11, cortical noradrenaline content12, locus coeruleus neurones13,14 and cortical somatostatic content15. Using immunocytochemical methods16, we here report that somatostatin-immunoreactive processes are present in neuritic plaques in human Alzheimer's specimens17. These data, as well as other reports of non-cholinergic changes18,19, strongly imply that Alzheimer's disease cannot be linked exclusively to cortical cholinergic elements, as proposed previously8. Rather, our data on plaque and somatostatin co-localization and distribution patterns suggest that Alzheimer's neuropathology may involve primarily the loss of selective cortical neurones that are targets of the implicated transmitter systems and that plaque formation may result from the degeneration of presynaptic and postsynaptic neurites of large projection neurones in layers III and V. Given the neurochemically heterogeneous input to these cells, it is not surprising that several neutrotransmitter systems, one of which is somatostatin, are implicated in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Katzman, R. Archs Neurol. 33, 217–218 (1976).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Terry, R. D. & Davies, P. A. Rev. Neurosci. 3, 77–95 (1980).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Blessed, G., Tomlinson, B. E. & Roth, M. Brit. J. Psychol. 114, 797–811 (1968).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Roth, M., Tomlinson, B. E. & Blessed, G. Proc. R. Soc. Med. 60, 14–18 (1967).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Rossor, M. N. Lancet ii, 200 (1982).

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Rossor, M. N., Iversen, L. L., Reynolds, G. P., Mountjoy, C. Q. & Roth, M. Br. Med. J. 288, 961 (1984).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Davies, P. & Maloney, A. J. R. Lancet ii, 1403 (1976).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Coyle, J. T., Price, D. L. & DeLong, M. R. Science 219, 1184–1190 (1983).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Cuello, A. C. & Sofroniew, M. V. Trends Neurosci. 7, 74–78 (1984).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Whitehouse, P. J. et al. Science 215, 1237–1239 (1982).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Struble, R. G., Cork, L. C., Whitehouse, P. J. & Price, D. L. Science 216, 413–415 (1982).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Adolfsson, R., Gottfries, C. G., Roos, B. E. & Winblad, B. Br. J. Psychiat. 135, 216 (1979).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Bondareff, W., Mountjoy, C. Q. & Roth, M. Neurology 32, 164 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Iversen, L. L. et al. Neurosci. Lett. 39, 95 (1983).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Davies, P., Katzman, R. & Terry, R. D. Nature 288, 279 (1980).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Morrison, J. H., Benoit, R., Magistretti, P. J. & Bloom, F. E. Brain Res. 262, 344–351 (1983).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Morrison, J. H., Rogers, J., Scherr, S. H., Benoit, R. & De Girolami, U. Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 10, 894 (1984).

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Gottfries, C. et al. Neurobiol. Aging 4, 261–272 (1983).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Rogers, J. & Bloom, F. E. in Handbook of the Biology of Aging (eds Finch, C. E. & Schneider, E.) (Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, in the press).

  20. 20

    Benoit, R., Ling, N., Alford, B. & Guillemin, R. Biochem. biophys. Res. Commun. 107, 944–950 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Schwartz, P. Gerontologia 18, 321(1972).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Sorenson, K. V. Neuroscience 7, 1227–1232 (1982).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Morimatsu, M., Hirai, S., Muramatsu, A. & Yoshikawa, M. J. Am. Geriat. Soc. 23, 390–395 (1975).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Dayan, A. D. Acta neuropath. 16, 85–95 (1970).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Terry, R. D., Peck, A., DeTeresa, R., Schechter, R. & Horoupian, D. S. A. Neurol. 10, 184–192 (1981).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Rogers, J. & Morrison, J. H. J. Neurosci. (submitted).

  27. 27

    Jones, E. G. in The Organization of the Cerebral Cortex (eds Schmitt, F. O., Worden, F. G., Adelman, F. & Dennis, S. G.) 199–235 (MIT, Cambridge, 1981).

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Armstrong, D. M., Shields, D. & Terry, R. D. Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 10, 271 (1984).

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Mountcastle, V. M. in The Neurosciences—4th Study Program (eds Schmitt, F. O. & Worden, F. G.) 21–42 (MIT, Cambridge, 1979).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Morrison, J., Rogers, J., Scherr, S. et al. Somatostatin immunoreactivity in neuritic plaques of Alzheimer's patients. Nature 314, 90–92 (1985).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing