The prevalence of the neuropathological lesions of Alzheimer's disease is independent of race and gender

Glenn Sandberg, Walter Stewart, John Smialek, Juan C. Troncoso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Senile plaques (SP) and neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) are the lesions characteristic of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this study, we examined variation in the proportion of individuals who had these lesions by race, age, and gender in a series of 138 autopsies conducted at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Maryland between 1990 and 1998. Cases were selected on the bases of age between 40 to 79 years and non-natural manner of death, and included 73% males, 61% subjects < 65 years of age, and 42% African Americans. Observations were conducted on histologic sections of the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, and inferior temporal cortex stained with silver (Hirano method) and immunostained for Aβ-amyloid. We found that SP and NFT are strongly associated with age. These lesions begin to appear in the early to late 40s, depending on the anatomic location, and become common in the 6th decade, preceding by one to two decades the age at which AD becomes clinically prevalent. No difference in the prevalence of SP or NFT was found by gender or between whites and African Americans. The latter is in contrast to epidemiologic studies that suggest AD is more prevalent in African Americans than in whites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
JournalNeurobiology of aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • African American
  • Alzheimer's disease (AD)
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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