Role of vascular risk factors and vascular dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease

Mt Sinai J Med. 2010 Jan-Feb;77(1):82-102. doi: 10.1002/msj.20155.


Recent findings indicate that vascular risk factors and neurovascular dysfunction play integral roles in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. In addition to aging, the most common risk factors for Alzheimer's disease are apolipoprotein e4 allele, hypertension, hypotension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia. All of these can be characterized by vascular pathology attributed to conditions such as cerebral amyloid angiopathy and subsequent blood-brain barrier dysfunction. Many epidemiological, clinical, and pharmacotherapeutic studies have assessed the associations between such risk factors and Alzheimer's disease and have found positive associations between hypertension, hypotension, and diabetes mellitus. However, there are still many conflicting results from these population-based studies, and they should be interpreted carefully. Recognition of these factors and the mechanisms by which they contribute to Alzheimer's disease will be beneficial in the current treatment regimens for Alzheimer's disease and in the development of future therapies. Here we discuss vascular factors with respect to Alzheimer's disease and dementia and review the factors that give rise to vascular dysfunction and contribute to Alzheimer's disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiopathology
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypotension / epidemiology
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Risk
  • Vascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Vascular Diseases / genetics
  • Vascular Diseases / physiopathology*


  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Cholesterol