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Alzheimer's disease in Down syndrome: neurobiology and risk.

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Department of Psychology, NYS Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island, New York 10314, USA.


Down syndrome (DS) is characterized by increased mortality rates, both during early and later stages of life, and age-specific mortality risk remains higher in adults with DS compared with the overall population of people with mental retardation and with typically developing populations. Causes of increased mortality rates early in life are primarily due to the increased incidence of congenital heart disease and leukemia, while causes of higher mortality rates later in life may be due to a number of factors, two of which are an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and an apparent tendency toward premature aging. In this article, we describe the increase in lifespan for people with DS that has occurred over the past 100 years, as well as advances in the understanding of the occurrence of AD in adults with DS. Aspects of the neurobiology of AD, including the role of amyloid, oxidative stress, Cu/ZN dismutase (SOD-1), as well as advances in neuroimaging are presented. The function of risk factors in the observed heterogeneity in the expression of AD dementia in adults with DS, as well as the need for sensitive and specific biomarkers of the clinical and pathological progressing of AD in adults with DS is considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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