I have talked before about the microtubule and microfilament components of the cytoskeleton. Now let’s turn our attention to the third component, the intermediate filaments.
Intermediate filaments unlike the microtubules and microfilaments are not always present in all cells. When present however, they can indicate the cellular origin of tumors. Why? How?
Well, there is a specific intermediate filament associated with specific cells and tissues. For example: cytokeratin is specific for epithelial tissue, desmin is found only in muscle cells, vimentin is found only in cells derived from mesenchyme, neurofilament is specific for neurons and glial fibrillary acidic protein or GFAP is specific for glial cells except microglia.
By the way, Alzheimer’s is associated with extensive tangles of neurofilament.