The informed road map to prevention of Alzheimer Disease: A call to arms

Mol Neurodegener. 2021 Jul 21;16(1):49. doi: 10.1186/s13024-021-00467-y.


Alzheimer disease (AD) prevention trials hold the promise to delay or prevent cognitive decline and dementia onset by intervening before significant neuronal damage occurs. In recent years, the first AD prevention trials have launched and are yielding important findings on the biology of targeting asymptomatic AD pathology. However, there are limitations that impact the design of these prevention trials, including the translation of animal models that recapitulate key stages and multiple pathological aspects of the human disease, missing target validation in asymptomatic disease, uncertain causality of the association of pathophysiologic changes with cognitive and clinical symptoms, and limited biomarker validation for novel targets. The field is accelerating advancements in key areas including the development of highly specific and quantitative biomarker measures for AD pathology, increasing our understanding of the course and relationship of amyloid and tau pathology in asymptomatic through symptomatic stages, and the development of powerful interventions that can slow or reverse AD amyloid pathology. We review the current status of prevention trials and propose key areas of needed research as a call to basic and translational scientists to accelerate AD prevention. Specifically, we review (1) sporadic and dominantly inherited primary and secondary AD prevention trials, (2) proposed targets, mechanisms, and drugs including the amyloid, tau, and inflammatory pathways and combination treatments, (3) the need for more appropriate prevention animal models and experiments, and (4) biomarkers and outcome measures needed to design human asymptomatic prevention trials. We conclude with actions needed to effectively move prevention targets and trials forward.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; Clinical trials; Primary and secondary prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control*
  • Animals
  • Humans