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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2000 Dec;59(12):1118-9.

Cell death or synaptic loss in Alzheimer disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093, USA.


It is an erroneous but common assumption that loss of neuronal perikarya causes the cognitive change in Alzheimer disease. Neither are senile plaques nor neurofibrillary tangles primarily to blame. In fact, it is the loss of synaptic contact that leads directly to the personal devastation. The death of neocortical synapses in the neuropil between plaques is probably the factor that activates the microglia.

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