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Current Genomics


ISSN (Print): 1389-2029
ISSN (Online): 1875-5488

Advances on the Understanding of the Origins of Synaptic Pathology in AD

Author(s): Pascale Nathalie Lacor

Volume 8, Issue 8, 2007

Page: [486 - 508] Pages: 23

DOI: 10.2174/138920207783769530

Price: $65


Although Alzheimers disease (AD) was first discovered a century ago, we are still facing a lack of definitive diagnosis during the patients lifetime and are unable to prescribe a curative treatment. However, the past 10 years have seen a “revamping” of the main hypothesis about AD pathogenesis and the hope to foresee possible treatment. AD is no longer considered an irreversible disease. A major refinement of the classic β-amyloid cascade describing amyloid fibrils as neurotoxins has been made to integrate the key scientific evidences demonstrating that the first pathological event occurring in AD early stages affects synaptic function and maintenance. A concept fully compatible with synapse loss being the best pathological correlate of AD rather than other described neuropathological hallmarks (amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles or neuronal death). The notion that synaptic alterations might be reverted, thus offering a potential curability, was confirmed by immunotherapy experiments targeting β-amyloid protein in transgenic AD mice in which cognitive functions were improved despite no reduction in the amyloid plaques burden. The updated amyloid cascade now integrates the synapse failure triggered by soluble Aβ-oligomers. Still no consensus has been reached on the most toxic Aβ conformations, neither on their site of production nor on their extra- versus intra-cellular actions. Evidence shows that soluble Aβ oligomers or ADDLs bind selectively to neurons at their synaptic loci, and trigger major changes in synapse composition and morphology, which ultimately leads to dendritic spine loss. However, the exact mechanism is not yet fully understood but is suspected to involve some membrane receptor(s).

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