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      The overlap between vascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease – lessons from pathology

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          Abstract

          Recent epidemiological and clinico-pathological data indicate considerable overlap between cerebrovascular disease (CVD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and suggest additive or synergistic effects of both pathologies on cognitive decline. The most frequent vascular pathologies in the aging brain and in AD are cerebral amyloid angiopathy and small vessel disease. Up to 84% of aged subjects show morphological substrates of CVD in addition to AD pathology. AD brains with minor CVD, similar to pure vascular dementia, show subcortical vascular lesions in about two-thirds, while in mixed type dementia (AD plus vascular dementia), multiple larger infarcts are more frequent. Small infarcts in patients with full-blown AD have no impact on cognitive decline but are overwhelmed by the severity of Alzheimer pathology, while in early stages of AD, cerebrovascular lesions may influence and promote cognitive impairment, lowering the threshold for clinically overt dementia. Further studies are warranted to elucidate the many hitherto unanswered questions regarding the overlap between CVD and AD as well as the impact of both CVD and AD pathologies on the development and progression of dementia.

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          Cerebral microvascular pathology in aging and Alzheimer's disease.

          The aging of the central nervous system and the development of incapacitating neurological diseases like Alzheimer's disease (AD) are generally associated with a wide range of histological and pathophysiological changes eventually leading to a compromised cognitive status. Although the diverse triggers of the neurodegenerative processes and their interactions are still the topic of extensive debate, the possible contribution of cerebrovascular deficiencies has been vigorously promoted in recent years. Various forms of cerebrovascular insufficiency such as reduced blood supply to the brain or disrupted microvascular integrity in cortical regions may occupy an initiating or intermediate position in the chain of events ending with cognitive failure. When, for example, vasoconstriction takes over a dominating role in the cerebral vessels, the perfusion rate of the brain can considerably decrease causing directly or through structural vascular damage a drop in cerebral glucose utilization. Consequently, cerebral metabolism can suffer a setback leading to neuronal damage and a concomitant suboptimal cognitive capacity. The present review focuses on the microvascular aspects of neurodegenerative processes in aging and AD with special attention to cerebral blood flow, neural metabolic changes and the abnormalities in microvascular ultrastructure. In this context, a few of the specific triggers leading to the prominent cerebrovascular pathology, as well as the potential neurological outcome of the compromised cerebral microvascular system are also going to be touched upon to a certain extent, without aiming at total comprehensiveness. Finally, a set of animal models are going to be presented that are frequently used to uncover the functional relationship between cerebrovascular factors and the damage to neural networks.
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            Neurovascular mechanisms and blood-brain barrier disorder in Alzheimer's disease.

            Vascular dysfunction has a critical role in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recent data from brain imaging studies in humans and animal models suggest that cerebrovascular dysfunction may precede cognitive decline and onset of neurodegenerative changes in AD and AD models. Cerebral hypoperfusion and impaired amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta) clearance across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) may contribute to the onset and progression of dementia AD type. Decreased cerebral blood flow (CBF) negatively affects the synthesis of proteins required for memory and learning, and may eventually lead to neuritic injury and neuronal death. Impaired clearance of Abeta from the brain by the cells of the neurovascular unit may lead to its accumulation on blood vessels and in brain parenchyma. The accumulation of Abeta on the cerebral blood vessels, known as cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), is associated with cognitive decline and is one of the hallmarks of AD pathology. CAA can severely disrupt the integrity of the blood vessel wall resulting in micro or macro intracerebral bleedings that exacerbates neurodegenerative process and inflammatory response and may lead to hemorrhagic stroke, respectively. Here, we review the role of the neurovascular unit and molecular mechanisms in vascular cells behind AD and CAA pathogenesis. First, we discuss apparent vascular changes, including the cerebral hypoperfusion and vascular degeneration that contribute to different stages of the disease process in AD individuals. We next discuss the role of the low-density lipoprotein receptor related protein-1 (LRP), a key Abeta clearance receptor at the BBB and along the cerebrovascular system, whose expression is suppressed early in AD. We also discuss how brain-derived apolipoprotein E isoforms may influence Abeta clearance across the BBB. We then review the role of two interacting transcription factors, myocardin and serum response factor, in cerebral vascular cells in controlling CBF responses and LRP-mediated Abeta clearance. Finally, we discuss the role of microglia and perivascular macrophages in Abeta clearance from the brain. The data reviewed here support an essential role of neurovascular and BBB mechanisms in contributing to both, onset and progression of AD.
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              The overlap between neurodegenerative and vascular factors in the pathogenesis of dementia.

              There is increasing evidence that cerebrovascular dysfunction plays a role not only in vascular causes of cognitive impairment but also in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Vascular risk factors and AD impair the structure and function of cerebral blood vessels and associated cells (neurovascular unit), effects mediated by vascular oxidative stress and inflammation. Injury to the neurovascular unit alters cerebral blood flow regulation, depletes vascular reserves, disrupts the blood-brain barrier, and reduces the brain's repair potential, effects that amplify the brain dysfunction and damage exerted by incident ischemia and coexisting neurodegeneration. Clinical-pathological studies support the notion that vascular lesions aggravate the deleterious effects of AD pathology by reducing the threshold for cognitive impairment and accelerating the pace of the dementia. In the absence of mechanism-based approaches to counteract cognitive dysfunction, targeting vascular risk factors and improving cerebrovascular health offers the opportunity to mitigate the impact of one of the most disabling human afflictions.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                j.attems@ncl.ac.uk
                kurt.jellinger@univie.ac.at
                Journal
                BMC Med
                BMC Med
                BMC Medicine
                BioMed Central (London )
                1741-7015
                11 November 2014
                11 November 2014
                2014
                : 12
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [ ]Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Campus for Ageing and Vitality, NE4 5PL Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
                [ ]Institute of Clinical Neurobiology, Medical University Vienna, Kenyongasse 18, 1070 Vienna, Austria
                Article
                206
                10.1186/s12916-014-0206-2
                4226890
                25385447
                8cfd4567-5c7b-446b-b8c6-7705a6f40e67
                © Attems and Jellinger; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Categories
                Review
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2014

                Medicine
                alzheimer’s disease,cerebrovascular lesions,cerebral amyloid angiopathy,cognitive impairment,lacunes,microinfarcts,small vessel disease,white matter lesions

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