A 2-process model for neuropathology of Alzheimer's disease

Neurobiol Aging. 2014 Feb;35(2):301-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.08.007. Epub 2013 Sep 27.


This study examined relations among neuritic and diffuse plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, age, and apolipoprotein E (APOE) in 2 large samples of neuropathology cases, the Religious Orders Study and the Memory and Aging Project. Cognitive status ranged from normal to demented and AD neuropathology ranged from none to severe. Confirmatory factor analysis identified a best-fitting 4-factor solution to describe interrelationships among plaques and tangles: a global neuritic plaque factor; a global diffuse plaque factor; a factor defined by medial temporal neurofibrillary tangles; and a neocortical tangle factor. Results supported a hypothesis that neuritic plaques mediate the association of age and APOE with neocortical tangles, and similarly mediate the effect of APOE on medial temporal tangles. However, medial temporal tangles were related to age independent of neuritic plaques. These results support a primary amyloid-based AD process that accounts for neocortical tangles and makes the largest contribution to medial temporal tangles. A second, age-related but non-amyloid process likely contributes to medial temporal lobe tangles.

Keywords: APOE; Age; Alzheimer's disease; Latent variable modeling; Neuropathology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / pathology
  • Plaque, Amyloid / pathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Apolipoproteins E