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Neurochem Int. 1985;7(4):545-63.

Transmitter deficits in Alzheimer's disease.

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Umeå Dementia Research Group, Departments of Pathology, Psychiatry and Geriatric Medicine, University of Umeå, Umeå Sweden.


The pattern of neurotransmitter pathway losses in Alzheimer's disease are reviewed. Deficits of the cholinergic pathway from the nucleus basalis, the noradrenergic pathway from the locus coeruleus and the serotoninergic pathway from the raphe nuclei are established. Cortical somatostatin interneurons are affected and dopaminergic neurons may be affected although these may be late or secondary phenomena in the disease process. Other neuronal systems, particularly in the hippocampus and temporal cortex, are also damaged. However, the disease is not one of generalised neuronal atrophy since some neurons are selectively spared. The established pathway-specific losses are discussed in relation to the clinical symptomatology and the pathology of the disorder. The biochemical and histological findings are compared with similar measurements made on tissues from other dementing disorders in an attempt to trace features common to dementias. Finally, as an addendum, a hypothesis is briefly outlined which attempts to explain the common features of the affected neurons and the pathogenesis of the disorder.

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