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GIORNALE ITALIANO DI DERMATOLOGIA E VENEREOLOGIA

A Journal on Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases


Official Journal of the Italian Society of Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2003 December;138(6):465-8

language: Italian

Hair abnormalities in Alzheimer’s dementia. A morphological and biochemical study and apolipoprotein E determination

Rossi A. 1, Bruno G. 2, Brusa L. 2, Schiaffini C. 2, Cantisani C. 1, Vigorita D. 3, Diana L. 4, Severini G. 4, De Martinis C. 1, Lenzi G. 1, Calvieri S. 1

1 Dipartimento di Malattie Cutanee-Veneree e Chirurgia Plastica-Ricostruttiva Università degli Studi di Roma, «La Sapienza», Roma
2 Dipartimento Scienze Neurologiche V Clinica Neurologica Università degli Studi di Roma, «La Sapienza», Roma
3 II Clinica Medica Università degli Studi di Roma, «La Sapienza», Roma
4 Laboratorio Biochimica Clinica Istituto Superiore della Sanità, Roma


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Aim. Common embryogenetic origins of the central nervous system and skin and its cutaneous adnexa offer a field of investigation to study the possible associations between neurological and dermatological disorders. Dementia of Alzheimer type (DAT) is a common neurodegenerative disease of unknown etiology presenting some cutaneous manifestations, (amyloid deposits, alterations in enzymatic activities and in fibroblast metabolism). A limited and insufficient number of studies have been focused on hair morphology in DAT. The aim of this paper is to search for an easily recognizable, accessible, biological marker for the diagnosis of DAT looking for peculiar abnormalities.
Methods. Sample of hair from a group of patients with DAT and from a control group were studied by SEM and optic microscopy by a blind examiner. Apo E determination was also performed.
Results.SEM and optic microscopy showed complete and/or uncomplete torsions and swellings of the hair shaft. The aminoacid analysis showed a reduction of cysteine levels and an increase of valine in 100% of subiects with Alzheimer’s disease and in their healthy relatives. The determination of Apo E controlled by chromosome 19 underlined the importance of genetic factors even in the so called “sporadic” DAT.
Conclusion. The occurrence of alterations cannot be interpreted as a preclinical marker in healthy individuals, but it has to be always investigated in the clinical and preclinical screening of affected patients and their relatives.

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