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Mt Sinai J Med. 2010 Jan-Feb;77(1):50-8. doi: 10.1002/msj.20163.

Relationship between tau pathology and neuroinflammation in Alzheimer's disease.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA.

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease is a chronic, age-related neurodegenerative disorder. Neurofibrillary tangles are among the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. Neurofibrillary tangles consist of abnormal protein fibers known as paired helical filaments. The accumulation of paired helical filaments is one of the most characteristic cellular changes in Alzheimer's disease. Tau protein, a microtubule-associated protein, is the major component of paired helical filaments. Tau in paired helical filaments is hyperphosphorylated, truncated, and aggregated. What triggers the formation of paired helical filaments is not known, but neuroinflammation could play a role. Neuroinflammation is an active process detectable in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease. The neuronal toxicity associated with inflammation makes it a potential risk factor in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Determining the sequence of events that lead to this devastating disease has become one of the most important goals for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. In this review, we focus on the pathological properties of tau thought to play a role in neurofibrillary tangle formation and summarize how central nervous system inflammation might be a critical contributor to the pathology of Alzheimer's disease. A better understanding of the mechanisms that cause neurofibrillary tangle formation is of clinical importance for developing therapeutic strategies to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease. One of the major challenges facing us is singling out neuroinflammation as a therapeutic target for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease neurodegeneration. The challenge is developing therapeutic strategies that prevent neurotoxicity linked to inflammation without compromising its neuroprotective role.

PMID:
20101714
PMCID:
PMC2904237
DOI:
10.1002/msj.20163
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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