Vasopressin in Alzheimer's disease: A study of postmortem brain concentrations
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Vasopressin (AVP) and its analogues are reported to improve learning- and memory-related performance in experimental animals, and perhaps also in humans. Memory impairment is a clinical hallmark of the dementing disorder, Alzheimer's disease. We have examined AVP concentrations in postmortem brain tissue from 12 patients with histologically confirmed Alzheimer's disease and 13 control subjects. AVP was measured by a highly specific and sensitive radioimmunoassay, validated by parallel inhibition curves and high-performance liquid chromatography. Alzheimer brains had either normal or slightly increased AVP levels in the neocortex, which does not have AVP cell bodies. Significant reductions in AVP content were found in the hippocampus, nucleus accumbens, and globus pallidus interna. Levels were normal in all other regions studied. Abnormalities of the brain vasopressin system may contribute to the memory deficit associated with Alzheimer's disease.
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