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Molecular Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease: Reductionist versus Expansionist Approaches
Division of Neuropathology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
College of Sciences, University of Texas, San Antonio, Texas, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 February 2009; in revised form: 20 March 2009 / Accepted: 23 March 2009 / Published: 26 March 2009
Abstract: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized clinically by dementia and pathologically by two hallmark lesions, senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. About a quarter century ago these hallmark lesions were purified and their protein constituents identified, precipitating an avalanche of molecular studies as well as substantial optimism about successful therapeutic intervention. In 2009, we now have copious knowledge on the biochemical cascades that produce these proteins, the different modifications and forms in which these proteins exist, and the ability to selectively target these proteins for therapeutic intervention on an experimental basis. At the same time, there has been no discernible alteration in the natural course of AD in humans. While it may be that the complexity of AD will exceed our capacity to make significant treatment progress for decades or more, a paradigm shift from the reductionism that defines amyloid-β and tau hypotheses, to one that more accurately reflects the meaning of neuropathological changes, may be warranted. We and others have demonstrated that AD pathology is a manifestation of cellular adaptation, specifically as a defense against oxidative injury. As such, AD pathology is therefore a host response rather than a manifestation of cytotoxic protein injury, and is unlikely to be a fruitful target for therapeutic intervention. An “expansionist” view of the disease, we believe, with oxidative stress as a pleiotropic and upstream process, more aptly describes the relationship between various and numerous molecular alterations and clinical disease.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β; oxidative stress; tau
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Castellani, R.J.; Zhu, X.; Lee, H.-G.; Smith, M.A.; Perry, G. Molecular Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease: Reductionist versus Expansionist Approaches. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2009, 10, 1386-1406.
Castellani RJ, Zhu X, Lee H-G, Smith MA, Perry G. Molecular Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease: Reductionist versus Expansionist Approaches. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2009; 10(3):1386-1406.
Castellani, Rudy J.; Zhu, Xiongwei; Lee, Hyoung-Gon; Smith, Mark A.; Perry, George. 2009. "Molecular Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease: Reductionist versus Expansionist Approaches." Int. J. Mol. Sci. 10, no. 3: 1386-1406.