Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology and early-onset dementia develop almost universally in Down syndrome (DS). AD is defined neuropathologically by the presence of extracellular plaques of aggregated amyloid β protein and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) of aggregated hyperphosphorylated tau protein. The development of radiolabeled positron emission tomography (PET) ligands for amyloid plaques and tau tangles enables the longitudinal assessment of the spatial pattern of their accumulation in relation to symptomatology. Recent work indicates that amyloid pathology develops 15-20 years before neurodegeneration and symptom onset in the sporadic and autosomal dominant forms of AD, while tau pathology correlates more closely with symptomatic stages evidenced by cognitive decline and dementia. Recent work on AD biomarkers in DS illustrates similarities between DS and sporadic AD. It may soon be possible to apply recently developed staging classifications to DS to obtain a more nuanced understanding of the development AD in DS and to provide more accurate diagnosis and prognosis in the clinic.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; down syndrome; neuroimaging; tau PET.
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