Alzheimer disease: epidemiology, diagnostic criteria, risk factors and biomarkers

Biochem Pharmacol. 2014 Apr 15;88(4):640-51. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2013.12.024. Epub 2014 Jan 4.


The global prevalence of dementia is as high as 24 million, and has been predicted to quadruple by the year 2050. In the US alone, Alzheimer disease (AD) - the most frequent cause of dementia characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive function in particular the memory domain - causes estimated health-care costs of $ 172 billion per year. Key neuropathological hallmarks of the AD brain are diffuse and neuritic extracellular amyloid plaques - often surrounded by dystrophic neurites - and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles. These pathological changes are frequently accompanied by reactive microgliosis and loss of neurons, white matter and synapses. The etiological mechanisms underlying these neuropathological changes remain unclear, but are probably caused by both environmental and genetic factors. In this review article, we provide an overview of the epidemiology of AD, review the biomarkers that may be used for risk assessment and in diagnosis, and give suggestions for future research.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Neurofibrillary tangles; Neuropathological.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers