Neuropathology Core

Rapid Autopsy Team

The neuropathology core’s rapid autopsy team performs autopsies of short PMI (less than four hours) according to a standardized protocol on longitudinally followed patients with Alzheimer's disease and other dementing disorders and cognitively normal aged control participants. From these short PMI autopsied subjects, the core maintains a bank of brain specimens, cerebrospinal fluid, serum, plasma, and buffy coats.

Role in Research

This core provides consensus conference-determined postmortem diagnoses; quantitation of neurofibrillary tangles, and neuritic and diffuse plaques in eight brain regions; Aß 1-40 and 1-42 quantitation; Braak staging; and CERAD and National Institute on Aging-Reagan Institute staging for all autopsied cases. This core evaluates the effectiveness and validity of the neuropathological guidelines for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease developed by the National Institute on Aging-Reagan Institute Working Group.

The core correlates the clinical, neuropsychological, and neuropathological features of demented and control subjects in conjunction with the clinical core. This unique opportunity to conduct clinical-pathological correlative studies on longitudinally-followed control subjects and patients with dementia affords a better understanding of normal brain aging and the transition to dementia. Identifying those factors involved in this transition could contribute to early interventions and possible preventive measures.

Emphasizes Changes and Findings

The neuropathology core emphasizes changes that occur in the brain of longitudinally-followed, normal-aged control participants, especially those with mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer's disease. The core also emphasizes neuropathological findings in the brains of the oldest old (over 85 years) and provides investigators with specimens from cognitively normal control subjects with no Aß and few neurofibrillary tangles (Braak 0-II; successful cerebral aging) and cognitively normal subjects with abundant Aß and neurofibrillary tangles (Braak IV-VI; preclinical AD).

Our requirement for autopsy agreement and our successful rapid autopsy program have generated an essential resource of tissue; in the last five years alone, the neuropathology core has provided >14,000 specimens to investigators. We operate under detailed guidelines that conform to the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health Biospecimen Best Practice Guidelines for Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers.

Goals of the Core

The overall objective of this core is to support and stimulate research on Alzheimer's disease and other age-related dementias by providing researchers with (brain) specimens from well-documented patients with dementing disorders and normal control participants by:


Performing short postmortem interval (PMI) autopsies on cognitively normal and cognitively impaired participants in the UK-Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) clinical cohort.

Postmortem Diagnoses

Providing state-of-the-art postmortem diagnoses with the most current methodologies.

Tissue Bank

Maintaining a tissue bank of short PMI rapidly anonymized frozen brain specimens and CSF in addition to banking frozen serum, plasma, buffy coat, and CSF from living subjects in the clinical cohort.


Conducting clinical-pathological correlative studies on longitudinally followed control subjects and patients with dementia to better understanding of normal brain aging and the transition to dementia.

Peter Nelson, MD, PhD

Room 311
Sanders-Brown Center on Aging
800 S. Limestone St.
Lexington, KY

(859) 218-3862 (office)
(859) 323-2866 (fax)

Senior Investigators

  • Janna Neltner, PhD (Associate Core Leader)
  • Wang-Xia Wang, PhD (Core Faculty)
  • Dianne Wilson, MD


Sonya Anderson
Tissue Bank Coordinator

Ela Patel
Principal Research Analyst