Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Argyrophilic plaque-like deposits in children


We recently examined the brain from an 8-month-old infant with Down's syndrome and found argyrophilic plaque-like deposits throughout the neocortex and cerebellum. To ascertain the specificity of this observation, we examined 27 additional brains from the pediatric autopsy service, including 1 from another patient with Down's syndrome. To our surprise, similar argyrophilic deposits were found in 16 of these cases. The deposits were equally well stained by three different silver stains and had the same size, shape, and distribution in gray matter as the diffuse amyloid plaques commonly seen in adults. However these structure appeared to be amyloid negative. There were no obvious differences in the primary diagnoses amongst the group of patients with argyrophilic deposits and the group without them, and the origin, permanence, and functional significance of these plaque-like deposits are still unknown. Nonetheless, their recognition is important since they may represent subtle brain injury and since similar structures in adults might easily be misinterpreted as true diffuse amyloid plaques.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Abe K, Tanzi R, Kogure K (1991) Selective induction of Kunitz-type protease inhibitor domain-containing amyloid precursor protein mRNA after persistent focal ischemia in rat cerebral cortex. Neurosci Lett 125: 172–174

  2. 2.

    Burger P, Vogel FS (1973) The development of pathological changes of Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia in patients with Down's syndrome. Am J Pathol 73: 457–476

  3. 3.

    Clinton J, Royston MC, Gentleman SM, Roberts GW (1992) Amyloid plaque. Morphology, evolution, and etiology. Mod Pathol 5: 439–443

  4. 4.

    Crain BJ, McPhatter LA, Croom DW, Hulette CM (1992) Diffuse plaques in children. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 51: 317

  5. 5.

    Delaère P, Duyckaerts C, He Y, Piette F, Hauw JJ (1991) Subtypes and differential laminar distribution of A4 deposits in Alzheimer's disease: relationship with intellectual status of 26 cases. Acta Neuropathol 81: 328–335

  6. 6.

    Games D, Khan KM, Soriano FG, Lieberburg I, Sinha S (1992) Evidence for altered APP processing following acute head trauma in the rodent. Soc Neurosci Abstr 18: 1437

  7. 7.

    Gehrrmann J, Mies G, Bonnekoh P, Banati R, Iijima T, Kreutzberg GW, Hossmann K-A (1993) Microglial reaction in the rat cerebral cortex induced by cortical spreading depression. Brain Pathol 3: 11–17

  8. 8.

    Glenner GG, Wong CW (1984) Alzheimer's disease: initial report of the purification and characterization of a novel cerebrovascular amyloid protein. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 120: 8850890

  9. 9.

    Guntern R, Couras C, Hof PR (1989) An improved staining method for senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangle in Alzheimer's disease: quantitative comparison with other techniques. Soc Neurosci Abstr 15: 1038

  10. 10.

    Hedreen JC, Raskin LS, Applegate MD, Price DL, Troncoso JC (1990) A quick silver method for senile plaques and a comparison of eight methods for the demonstration of senile plaques. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 49: 308

  11. 11.

    Heyman A, Wilkinson SE, Stafford JA, Helms MJ, Sigmon AH, Weinberg T (1984) Alzheimer's disease: a study of epidemiological aspects. Ann Neurol 15: 335–341

  12. 12.

    Hyman BT, Tanzi RE, Marzloff K, Barbour R, Schenk D (1992) Kunitz protease inhibitor-containing amyloid protein precursor immunoreactivity in Alzheimer's disease. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 51: 76–83

  13. 13.

    Ikeda K, Haga C, Kosaka K, Oyanagi S (1989) Senile plaquelike structures: observation of a probably unknown type of senile plaque by periodic acid methenamine silver (PAM) electron microscopy. Acta Neuropathol 78: 137–142

  14. 14.

    Joachim CL, Morris JH, Selkoe DJ (1989) Diffuse amyloid plaques occur commonly in the cerebellum in Alzheimer's disease. Am J Pathol 135: 309–319

  15. 15.

    Kalus P, Braak H, Braak E, Bohl J (1989) The presubicular region in Alzheimer's disease: topography of amyloid deposits and neurofibrillary changes. Brain Res 494: 198–203

  16. 16.

    Lloyd B, Brinn N, Burger PC (1985) Silver-staining of senile plaques and neurofibrillary change in paraffin-embedded tissues. J Histotechnol 8: 155–156

  17. 17.

    Mann DMA, Brown AMT, Prinja D, Jones D, Davies LA (1990) A morphological analysis of senile plaques in the brains of nondemented person of different ages using silver, immunocytochemical and lectin histochemical staining techniques. Neuropathol Exp Neurobiol 16: 17–25

  18. 18.

    Mirra SS, Hart MN, Terry RD (1993) Making the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. A primer for practising pathologists. Arch Pathol Lab Med 117: 132–144

  19. 19.

    Munoz DG, Wang D, Selkoe DJ (1991) Colocalization of perivascular neuropil staining by a PHF antiserum and a β/A4 antiserum in selected vessels of young, old, and Alzheimer disease (AD) brain. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 50: 311

  20. 20.

    Oliver C, Holland AJ (1986) Down's syndrome and Alzheimer's disease: a review. Psychol Med 16: 307–322

  21. 21.

    Popovitch ER, Wisniewski HM, Barcikowska M, Silverman W, Bancher C, Sersen E, Wen GY (1990) Alzheimer neuropathology in non-Down's syndrome mentally retarded adults. Acta Neuropathol 80: 362–367

  22. 22.

    Probst A, Brunnschweiler H, Lautenschlager C, Ulrich J (1987) A special type of senile plaque, possibly an initial stage. Acta Neuropathol (Berl) 74: 133–141

  23. 23.

    Roberts GW, Gentleman SM, Lynch A, Graham DI (1991) A4 amyloid protein deposition in brain after head trauma. Lancet 338: 1422–1423

  24. 24.

    Rozemuller JM, Eikelenboom R, Starn FC, Beyreuther KT, Masters CK (1989) A4 protein in Alzheimer's disease: primary and secondary cellular events in extracellular amyloid deposition. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 48: 674–691

  25. 25.

    Tagliavini F, Giaccone G, Frangione B, Bugiani O (1988) Preamyloid deposits in the cerebral cortex of patients with Alzheimer's disease and nondemented individuals. Neurosci Lett 93: 191–196

  26. 26.

    Wisniewski HM, Bancher C, Barcikowska M, Wen GY, Currie J (1989) Spectrum of morphological appearance of amyloid deposits in Alzheimer's disease. Acta Neuropathol 78: 337–347

  27. 27.

    Wisniewski KE, Wisniewski HM, Wen GY (1985) Occurrence of neuropathological changes and dementia of Alzheimer's disease in Down's syndrome. Ann Neurol 17: 278–282

  28. 28.

    Yamaguchi H, Hirai S, Morimatsu M, Shoji M, Ihara Y (1988) A variety of cerebral amyloid deposits in the brains of Alzheimer-type dementia demonstrated by protein immunostaining. Acta Neuropathol 76: 541–549

  29. 29.

    Yamazaki T, Yamaguchi H, Nakazato Y, Ishiguro K, Kawarabayashi T, Hirai S (1992) Ultrastructural characterization of cerebellar diffuse plaques in Alzheimer's disease. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 51: 281–286

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Barbara J. Crain.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Crain, B.J., McPhatter, L., Croom, D.W. et al. Argyrophilic plaque-like deposits in children. Acta Neuropathol 89, 42–49 (1995).

Download citation

Key words

  • Plaques
  • Down's syndrome
  • Alzheimer's disease