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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2003 Mar;5(1):101-8.

The discovery of Alzheimer's disease.

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Psychiatrische Klinik der LMU, Munich, Germany.


On November 3, 1906, a clinical psychiatrist and neuroanatomist, Alois Alzheimer, reported "A peculiar severe disease process of the cerebral cortex" to the 37th Meeting of South-West German Psychiatrists in Tubingen, He described a 50-year-old woman whom he had followed from her admission for paranoia, progressive sleep and memory disturbance, aggression, and confusion, until her death 5 years later. His report noted distinctive plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain histology. It excited little interest despite an enthusiastic response from Kraepelin, who promptly included "Alzheimer's disease" in the 8th edition of his text Psychiatrie in 1910. Alzheimer published three further cases in 1909 and a "plaque-only" variant in 1911, which reexamination of the original specimens in 1993 showed to be a different stage of the same process, Alzheimer died in 1915, aged 51, soon after gaining the chair of psychiatry in Breslau, and long before his name became a household word.


Alois Alzheimer; Alzheimer's disease; German psychiatry; case of Auguste D.; case of Josef R; history


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