Author(s): Migliore L, Botto N, Scarpato R, Petrozzi L, Cipriani G
To further investigate our finding of high levels of spontaneous aneuploidy in somatic cells of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients (Migliore et al. 1997), we studied the molecular cytogenetics of eight patients with sporadic AD and six healthy controls of similar age. Cytochalasin B-blocked binucleated peripheral blood lymphocytes from the AD patients and unaffected controls were used to measure micronucleus induction or other aneuploidy events, such as the presence of malsegregation in interphase nuclei (representing chromosome loss and gain). Dual-color fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with differential labeled DNA probes was applied. We used a probe specific for the centromeres of chromosomes 13 and 21 combined with a single cosmid for the Down's syndrome region (21q22.2) to obtain information on spontaneous chromosome loss and gain frequencies for both chromosomes (13 and 21). FISH data showed that AD lymphocytes had higher frequencies of chromosome loss (evaluated as fluorescently labeled micronuclei) for both chromosomes, as well as higher frequencies of aneuploid interphase nuclei, again involving both chromosomes, compared to control lymphocytes. However, aneuploidy for chromosome 21 was more frequent than for chromosome 13 in AD patients. This preferential occurrence of chromosome 21 in malsegregation in somatic cells of AD patients raises the hypothesis that mosaicism for trisomy of chromosome 21 could underlie the dementia phenotype in AD patients, as well as in elderly Down's syndrome patients.