Making the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. A primer for practicing pathologists

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1993 Feb;117(2):132-44.


There is demand on community pathologists to perform autopsies to confirm the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia in our increasingly aging society. Yet many pathologists are reluctant to examine autopsy brains because they have little experience with neuropathology and with the common histopathologic staining methods needed to evaluate dementia cases. This article provides interested pathologists with a simple, practical protocol to use in meeting this demand. While there is no absolute diagnostic gold standard for Alzheimer's disease and the histopathologic diagnosis remains imperfect, the guidelines presented are adapted from those used by many neuropathologists at Alzheimer's disease research centers participating in CERAD, the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease. Recipes for appropriate stains and specific case examples are provided for convenience.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Autopsy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lewy Bodies / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pathology / methods
  • Specimen Handling