Neural networks provide candidate substrates for the spread of proteinopathies causing neurodegeneration, and emerging data suggest that macroscopic signatures of network disintegration differentiate diseases. However, how do protein abnormalities produce network signatures? The answer may lie with 'molecular nexopathies': specific, coherent conjunctions of pathogenic protein and intrinsic network characteristics that define network signatures of neurodegenerative pathologies. Key features of the paradigm that we propose here include differential intrinsic network vulnerability to propagating protein abnormalities, in part reflecting developmental structural and functional factors; differential vulnerability of neural connection types (e.g., clustered versus distributed connections) to particular pathogenic proteins; and differential impact of molecular effects (e.g., toxic-gain-of-function versus loss-of-function) on gradients of network damage. The paradigm has implications for understanding and predicting neurodegenerative disease biology.
Keywords: dementia; neural network; neurodegeneration; nexopathy.
Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ltd.