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Effects of Alzheimer’s disease and formalin fixation on the different mineralised-iron forms in the human brain

Louise van der Weerd, Anton Lefering, Andrew Webb and others

Scientific reports


Iron accumulation in the brain is a phenomenon common to many neurodegenerative diseases, perhaps most notably Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

We present here magnetic analyses of post-mortem brain tissue of patients who had severe Alzheimer’s disease, and compare the results with those from healthy controls. Isothermal remanent magnetization experiments were performed to assess the extent to which different magnetic carriers are affected by AD pathology and formalin fixation.

While Alzheimer’s brain material did not show higher levels of magnetite/maghemite nanoparticles than corresponding controls, the ferrihydrite mineral, known to be found within the core of ferritin proteins and hemosiderin aggregates, almost doubled in concentration in patients with Alzheimer’s pathology, strengthening the conclusions of our previous studies.

As part of this study, we also investigated the effects of sample preparation, by performing experiments on frozen tissue as well as tissue which had been fixed in formalin for a period of 5 months.

Our results showed that the two different preparations did not critically affect the concentration of magnetic carriers in brain tissue, as observable by SQUID magnetometry.


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