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Prog Neurobiol. 2001 Aug;64(6):575-611.

Cerebral microvascular pathology in aging and Alzheimer's disease.

Author information

1
Department of Animal Physiology, Graduate School of Behavioral and Cognitive Neurosciences, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands. e.farkas@biol.rug.nl

Abstract

The aging of the central nervous system and the development of incapacitating neurological diseases like Alzheimer's disease (AD) are generally associated with a wide range of histological and pathophysiological changes eventually leading to a compromised cognitive status. Although the diverse triggers of the neurodegenerative processes and their interactions are still the topic of extensive debate, the possible contribution of cerebrovascular deficiencies has been vigorously promoted in recent years. Various forms of cerebrovascular insufficiency such as reduced blood supply to the brain or disrupted microvascular integrity in cortical regions may occupy an initiating or intermediate position in the chain of events ending with cognitive failure. When, for example, vasoconstriction takes over a dominating role in the cerebral vessels, the perfusion rate of the brain can considerably decrease causing directly or through structural vascular damage a drop in cerebral glucose utilization. Consequently, cerebral metabolism can suffer a setback leading to neuronal damage and a concomitant suboptimal cognitive capacity. The present review focuses on the microvascular aspects of neurodegenerative processes in aging and AD with special attention to cerebral blood flow, neural metabolic changes and the abnormalities in microvascular ultrastructure. In this context, a few of the specific triggers leading to the prominent cerebrovascular pathology, as well as the potential neurological outcome of the compromised cerebral microvascular system are also going to be touched upon to a certain extent, without aiming at total comprehensiveness. Finally, a set of animal models are going to be presented that are frequently used to uncover the functional relationship between cerebrovascular factors and the damage to neural networks.

PMID:
11311463
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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