Article

Reimagining Alzheimer's Disease-An Age-Based Hypothesis

Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 12/2010; 30(50):16755-62. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4521-10.2010
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The historical roots of Alzheimer's disease provide a sound conceptual basis for linking the behavioral and neurological symptoms of the disease with the frequently associated pathology of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Out of these roots has grown the "amyloid cascade hypothesis"--a vision of the etiology of Alzheimer's that has spurred the discovery of many important insights into the neurobiology of the disease. Despite these successes, the wealth of new data now available to biomedical researchers urges a full review of the origins of Alzheimer's, and such a reconsideration is offered here. It begins with the most widely accepted risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease: age. Then, for an individual to progress from normal age-appropriate cognitive function to a condition where the full palette of clinical symptoms is expressed, three key steps are envisioned: (1) an initiating injury, (2) a chronic neuroinflammatory response, and (3) a discontinuous cellular change of state involving most, if not all, of the cell types of the brain. The amyloid cascade is integrated into this sequence, but reconfigured as an amyloid deposition cycle. In this way, the pathology of amyloid plaques is envisioned as highly correlated with, but mechanistically distinct from, the three obligatory steps leading to Alzheimer's disease. The implications of this new model are discussed with respect to our current diagnostic criteria, and suggestions are put forward for expanding our future research efforts.

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