Alzheimer's disease (AD), the major cause of dementia among the elderly world-wide, manifests in familial and sporadic forms, and the latter variety accounts for the majority of the patients affected by this disease. The etiopathogenesis of sporadic AD is complex and uncertain. The autopsy studies of AD brain have provided limited understanding of the antemortem pathogenesis of the disease. Experimental AD research with transgenic animal or various cell based models has so far failed to explain the complex and varied spectrum of AD dementia. The review, therefore, emphasizes the importance of AD related risk factors, especially those with metabolic implications, identified from various epidemiological studies, in providing clues to the pathogenesis of this complex disorder. Several metabolic risk factors of AD like hypercholesterolemia, hyperhomocysteinemia and type 2 diabetes have been studied extensively both in epidemiology and experimental research, while much less is known about the role of adipokines, pro-inflammatory cytokines and vitamin D in this context. Moreover, the results from many of these studies have shown a degree of variability which has hindered our understanding of the role of AD related risk factors in the disease progression. The review also encompasses the recent recommendations regarding clinical and neuropathological diagnosis of AD and brings out the inherent uncertainty and ambiguity in this area which may have a distinct impact on the outcome of various population-based studies on AD-related risk factors.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Metabolic; pathogenesis; risk factors; sporadic; treatment.