The Hypothalamus in Alzheimer’s Disease

Stavros J. Baloyannis, Ioannis Mavroudis, Demetrios Mitilineos, Ioannis S. Baloyannis, Vassiliki G. Costa
  • American Journal of Alzheimer s Disease & Other Dementias®, November 2014, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1533317514556876

The Hypothalamus in Alzheimer’s Disease

What is it about?

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by irreversible decline of mental faculties, emotional and behavioral changes, loss of motor skills, and dysfunction of autonomic nervous system and disruption of circadian rhythms (CRs). We attempted to describe the morphological findings of the hypothalamus in early cases of AD, focusing our study mostly on the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the supraoptic nucleus (SON), and the paraventricular nucleus (PVN). Samples were processed for electron microscopy and silver impregnation techniques. The hypothalamic nuclei demonstrated a substantial decrease in the neuronal population, which was particularly prominent in the SCN. Marked abbreviation of dendritic arborization, in association with spinal pathology, was also seen. The SON and PVN demonstrated a substantial number of dystrophic axons and abnormal spines. Alzheimer’s pathology, such as deposits of amyloid-b peptide and neurofibrillary degeneration, was minimal. Electron microscopy revealed mitochondrial alterations in the cell body and the dendritic branches. The morphological alterations of the hypothalamic nuclei in early cases of AD may be related to the gradual alteration of CRs and the instability of autonomic regulation.

Why is it important?

In the present study, we attempted to describe the morphological alterations of the neuronal networks in the hypothalamus in early cases of AD, focusing our study mostly on the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the supraoptic nucleus (SON), and the paraventricular nucleus (PVN).We attempted to describe the dendritic and spinal pathology in silver impregnation techniques and the morphological and morphometric alteration of the mitochondria and Golgi apparatus in association with synaptic pathology at electron microscopy.

Perspectives

Professor Stavros J Baloyannis (Author)
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

The role of the hypothalamus in the regulation of CRs, its critical role in the maintenance of energy homeostasis, in feeding behavior and in thermoregulation of the body starts becoming unstable during the clinical course of AD. In other types of dementia, such as in behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia, degeneration of the hypothalamic nuclei relates to significant feeding disturbances. In conclusion, neuropathological alterations of the hypothalamus may play an important role in the autonomic dysfunction and homeostatic changes, phenomena which frequently occur in the advanced stages of AD.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1533317514556876

The following have contributed to this page: Professor Stavros J Baloyannis