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Homeostatic capabilities of the choroid plexus epithelium in Alzheimer's disease

Conrad Johanson1*, Paul McMillan2, Rosemarie Tavares2, Anthony Spangenberger1, John Duncan1, Gerald Silverberg1 and Edward Stopa12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Brown Medical School, Providence, RI 02903, USA

2 Department of Pathology, Brown Medical School, Providence, RI 02903,USA

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Cerebrospinal Fluid Research 2004, 1:3  doi:10.1186/1743-8454-1-3

Published: 10 December 2004


As the secretory source of vitamins, peptides and hormones for neurons, the choroid plexus (CP) epithelium critically provides substances for brain homeostasis. This distributive process of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volume transmission reaches many cellular targets in the CNS. In ageing and ageing-related dementias, the CP-CSF system is less able to regulate brain interstitial fluid. CP primarily generates CSF bulk flow, and so its malfunctioning exacerbates Alzheimers disease (AD). Considerable attention has been devoted to the blood-brain barrier in AD, but more insight is needed on regulatory systems at the human blood-CSF barrier in order to improve epithelial function in severe disease. Using autopsied CP specimens from AD patients, we immunocytochemically examined expression of heat shock proteins (HSP90 and GRP94), fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFr) and a fluid-regulatory protein (NaK2Cl cotransporter isoform 1 or NKCC1). CP upregulated HSP90, FGFr and NKCC1, even in end-stage AD. These CP adjustments involve growth factors and neuropeptides that help to buffer perturbations in CNS water balance and metabolism. They shed light on CP-CSF system responses to ventriculomegaly and the altered intracranial pressure that occurs in AD and normal pressure hydrocephalus. The ability of injured CP to express key regulatory proteins even at Braak stage V/VI, points to plasticity and function that may be boosted by drug treatment to expedite CSF dynamics. The enhanced expression of human CP 'homeostatic proteins' in AD dementia is discussed in relation to brain deficits and pharmacology.