Apoptotic mechanisms in Alzheimer neurofibrillary degeneration: cause or effect?

J Clin Invest. 2004 Jul;114(1):23-7. doi: 10.1172/JCI22317.


Increasing evidence suggests that selective neuronal loss in neurodegenerative diseases involves activation of cysteine aspartyl proteases (caspases), which initiate and execute apoptosis. In Alzheimer disease both extracellular amyloid deposits and intracellular amyloid beta protein may activate caspases, leading to cleavage of nuclear and cytoskeletal proteins, including tau protein. Proteolysis of tau may be critical to neurofibrillary degeneration, which correlates with dementia.

Publication types

  • Comment
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / physiology
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology*
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / pathology*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides