Article

Neuropathological subtypes of Alzheimer’s disease

Acta Neuropathologica (Impact Factor: 9.78). 01/2012; 123(1):153-4. DOI: 10.1007/s00401-011-0889-9
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: The impairment of glutamatergic neurotransmission plays an important role in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The pathological process, which involves the production of amyloid-β peptides and hyperphosphorylated tau proteins, spreads over well-delineated neuroanatomical circuits. The gradual deterioration of proper synaptic functioning (via GluN2A-containing N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors, NMDARs) and the development of excitotoxicity (via GluN2B-containing NMDARs) in these structures both accompany the disease pathogenesis. Although one of the most important therapeutic targets would be glutamate excitotoxicity, the application of conventional anti-glutamatergic agents could result in further deterioration of synaptic transmission and intolerable side-effects. With regard to NMDAR antagonists with tolerable side-effects, ion channel blockers with low affinity, glycine site agents, and specific antagonists of polyamine site and GluN2B subunit may come into play. However, in the mirror of experimental data, only the application of ion channel blockers with pronounced voltage dependency, low affinity, and rapid unblocking kinetics (e.g., memantine) and specific antagonists of the GluN2B subunit (e.g., ifenprodil and certain kynurenic acid amides) resulted in desirable symptom amelioration. Therefore we propose that these kinds of chemical agents may have therapeutic potential for present and future drug development.
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    ABSTRACT: We recommend a new term, "primary age-related tauopathy" (PART), to describe a pathology that is commonly observed in the brains of aged individuals. Many autopsy studies have reported brains with neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) that are indistinguishable from those of Alzheimer's disease (AD), in the absence of amyloid (Aβ) plaques. For these "NFT+/Aβ-" brains, for which formal criteria for AD neuropathologic changes are not met, the NFTs are mostly restricted to structures in the medial temporal lobe, basal forebrain, brainstem, and olfactory areas (bulb and cortex). Symptoms in persons with PART usually range from normal to amnestic cognitive changes, with only a minority exhibiting profound impairment. Because cognitive impairment is often mild, existing clinicopathologic designations, such as "tangle-only dementia" and "tangle-predominant senile dementia", are imprecise and not appropriate for most subjects. PART is almost universally detectable at autopsy among elderly individuals, yet this pathological process cannot be specifically identified pre-mortem at the present time. Improved biomarkers and tau imaging may enable diagnosis of PART in clinical settings in the future. Indeed, recent studies have identified a common biomarker profile consisting of temporal lobe atrophy and tauopathy without evidence of Aβ accumulation. For both researchers and clinicians, a revised nomenclature will raise awareness of this extremely common pathologic change while providing a conceptual foundation for future studies. Prior reports that have elucidated features of the pathologic entity we refer to as PART are discussed, and working neuropathological diagnostic criteria are proposed.
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