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Review
, 2018, 2941783
eCollection

Visual Features in Alzheimer's Disease: From Basic Mechanisms to Clinical Overview

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Review

Visual Features in Alzheimer's Disease: From Basic Mechanisms to Clinical Overview

María Alejandra Cerquera-Jaramillo et al. Neural Plast.

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia worldwide. It compromises patients' daily activities owing to progressive cognitive deterioration, which has elevated direct and indirect costs. Although AD has several risk factors, aging is considered the most important. Unfortunately, clinical diagnosis is usually performed at an advanced disease stage when dementia is established, making implementation of successful therapeutic interventions difficult. Current biomarkers tend to be expensive, insufficient, or invasive, raising the need for novel, improved tools aimed at early disease detection. AD is characterized by brain atrophy due to neuronal and synaptic loss, extracellular amyloid plaques composed of amyloid-beta peptide (Aβ), and neurofibrillary tangles of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. The visual system and central nervous system share many functional components. Thus, it is plausible that damage induced by Aβ, tau, and neuroinflammation may be observed in visual components such as the retina, even at an early disease stage. This underscores the importance of implementing ophthalmological examinations, less invasive and expensive than other biomarkers, as useful measures to assess disease progression and severity in individuals with or at risk of AD. Here, we review functional and morphological changes of the retina and visual pathway in AD from pathophysiological and clinical perspectives.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Pathophysiological events in the retina during Alzheimer's disease progression. Amyloid-beta (Aβ) induces microglia and astrocyte activation, synaptic dysfunction, and neurodegeneration. These interactions can be observed by noninvasive ophthalmological examinations in the retina at different stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Reduction in the peripapillary region and macular volume has been described in MCI and AD. AA: arachidonic acid; Aβ: amyloid-beta; ACh: acetylcholine; AD: Alzheimer's disease; MCI: mild cognitive impairment; NO: nitric oxide; OS: oxidative stress; PG: prostaglandins; RGC: retinal ganglion cells.

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