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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23789. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023789. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Amyloid triggers extensive cerebral angiogenesis causing blood brain barrier permeability and hypervascularity in Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Evidence of reduced blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity preceding other Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology provides a strong link between cerebrovascular angiopathy and AD. However, the "Vascular hypothesis", holds that BBB leakiness in AD is likely due to hypoxia and neuroinflammation leading to vascular deterioration and apoptosis. We propose an alternative hypothesis: amyloidogenesis promotes extensive neoangiogenesis leading to increased vascular permeability and subsequent hypervascularization in AD. Cerebrovascular integrity was characterized in Tg2576 AD model mice that overexpress the human amyloid precursor protein (APP) containing the double missense mutations, APPsw, found in a Swedish family, that causes early-onset AD. The expression of tight junction (TJ) proteins, occludin and ZO-1, were examined in conjunction with markers of apoptosis and angiogenesis. In aged Tg2576 AD mice, a significant increase in the incidence of disrupted TJs, compared to age matched wild-type littermates and young mice of both genotypes, was directly linked to an increased microvascular density but not apoptosis, which strongly supports amyloidogenic triggered hypervascularity as the basis for BBB disruption. Hypervascularity in human patients was corroborated in a comparison of postmortem brain tissues from AD and controls. Our results demonstrate that amylodogenesis mediates BBB disruption and leakiness through promoting neoangiogenesis and hypervascularity, resulting in the redistribution of TJs that maintain the barrier and thus, provides a new paradigm for integrating vascular remodeling with the pathophysiology observed in AD. Thus the extensive angiogenesis identified in AD brain, exhibits parallels to the neovascularity evident in the pathophysiology of other diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.

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