Dementia: Alzheimer pathology and vascular factors: from mutually exclusive to interaction

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Mar;1822(3):340-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2011.07.003. Epub 2011 Jul 14.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia. Both its incidence and prevalence are expected to increase exponentially as populations' age worldwide. Despite impressive efforts of research worldwide, neither cure nor effective preventive strategy is available for this devastating disease. Currently there are several hypotheses on what causes AD, with the amyloid hypothesis being the most investigated and accepted hypothesis over the past 20 years. However the exact role of amyloid-β in the onset and progression of AD is not yet fully understood, and even the validity of the amyloid hypothesis itself is still being discussed. This debate is fuelled by the vascular hypothesis, as increasing epidemiological, neuroimaging, pathological, pharmacotherapeutic and clinical studies suggest that vascular pathology plays a key role in the onset and progression of AD. We here will discuss arguments in favor and limitations of both hypotheses within the framework of available literature, but also provide arguments for convergence of both hypotheses. Finally we propose approaches that may aid in unraveling the etiology and treatment of AD. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Imaging Brain Aging and Neurodegenerative disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Peptides / metabolism*


  • Amyloid
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Peptides
  • vascular factor