Periodic acid-Schiff granules in the brain of aged mice: From amyloid aggregates to degenerative structures containing neo-epitopes

Gemma Manich, Itsaso Cabezón, Elisabet Augé, Carme Pelegrí*, Jordi Vilaplana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Brain ageing in mice leads to the progressive appearance and expansion of degenerative granular structures frequently referred as "PAS granules" because of their positive staining with periodic acid-Schiff (PAS). PAS granules are present mainly in the hippocampus, although they have also been described in other brain areas such as piriform and entorhinal cortices, and have been observed in other mammals than mice, like rats and monkeys. PAS granules have been identified as a wide range of brain deposits related to numerous neurodegenerative diseases, such as amyloid deposits, neurofibrillary tangles, Lafora bodies, corpora amylacea and polyglucosan bodies, and these identifications have generated controversy and particular theories about them. We have recently reported the presence of a neo-epitope in mice hippocampal PAS granules and the existence of natural IgM auto-antibodies directed against the neo-epitope in the plasma of the animals. The significance of the neo-epitope and the autoantibodies is discussed in this review. Moreover, we observed that the IgM anti-neo-epitope is frequently present as a contaminant in numerous commercial antibodies and is responsible of a considerable amount of false positive immunostainings, which may produce misinterpretations in the identification of the granules. Now that this point has been clarified, this article reviews and reconsiders the nature and physiopathological significance of these degenerative granules. Moreover, we suggest that neo-epitopes may turn into a useful brain-ageing biomarker and that autoimmunity could become a new focus in the study of age-related degenerative processes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)42-55
Number of pages14
JournalAgeing Research Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Ageing
  • Amyloid
  • Hippocampus
  • Natural antibody
  • Neo-epitope
  • Periodic acid-Schiff


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