Prevention of Alzheimer's disease: a global challenge for next generation neuroscientists

J Alzheimers Dis. 2014:42 Suppl 4:S515-23. doi: 10.3233/JAD-141479.


The incidence of dementia is rapidly increasing in developed countries due to social and demographic changes. This trend is expected to worsen in the coming decades, with the number of cases possibly even tripling in the next 25 years. Therefore Alzheimer's disease (AD) prevention is becoming a global health priority. Our knowledge of the pathophysiological process leading to the development of pathological brain lesions that characterize AD has increased exponentially in recent years. However, the phenotypic expression of AD not only depends on the development of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles but other factors also play a role. Thus, over the last few decades, epidemiological studies have revealed several risk factors for developing AD, such as vascular or lifestyle related factors. Having the current knowledge on AD, two different strategies have been developed for the prevention of AD: one is based on primary prevention by acting on modifiable risk factors, the other is a pathophysiology-driven approach aimed to identify individuals in a preclinical stage of the disease and treating them with drugs purporting to act on molecular targets of the amyloid cascade. Several promising trials with these approaches are currently ongoing and results are expected in the next few years. The intrinsic limitations in the design of preventive trials should be overcome through a global effort involving healthy population, healthcare professionals, governments, industry, and scientific institutions. This exertion will be more than compensated if we can make AD a preventable disease.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; anti-amyloid therapy; multidomain approach; preclinical Alzheimer's disease; preventive clinical trials; primary prevention; secondary prevention; vascular risk factors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control*
  • Global Health* / trends
  • Humans
  • Neurosciences / methods*
  • Neurosciences / trends*