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Neurologia. 2018 Mar;33(2):112-120. doi: 10.1016/j.nrl.2015.07.010. Epub 2015 Sep 16.

Vascular pathology: Cause or effect in Alzheimer disease?

[Article in English, Spanish]

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Departamento de Fisiología, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Valencia, Burjassot, Valencia, España.
Departamento de Farmacia y Tecnología Farmacéutica, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Valencia, Burjassot, Valencia, España. Electronic address:



Alzheimer disease (AD) is the main cortical neurodegenerative disease. The incidence of this disease increases with age, causing significant medical, social and economic problems, especially in countries with ageing populations.


This review aims to highlight existing evidence of how vascular dysfunction may contribute to cognitive impairment in AD, as well as the therapeutic possibilities that might arise from this evidence.


The vascular hypothesis emerged as an alternative to the amyloid cascade hypothesis as an explanation for the pathophysiology of AD. This hypothesis locates blood vessels as the origin for a variety of pathogenic pathways that lead to neuronal damage and dementia. Destruction of the organisation of the blood brain barrier, decreased cerebral blood flow, and the establishment of an inflammatory context would thus be responsible for any subsequent neuronal damage since these factors promote aggregation of β-amyloid peptide in the brain. The link between neurodegeneration and vascular dysfunction pathways has provided new drug targets and therapeutic approaches that will add to the treatments for AD.


It is difficult to determine whether the vascular component in AD is the cause or the effect of the disease, but there is no doubt that vascular pathology has an important relationship with AD. Vascular dysfunction is likely to act synergistically with neurodegenerative changes in a cycle that exacerbates the cognitive impairment found in AD.


Alzheimer; Barrera hematoencefálica; Blood brain barrier; Cerebral blood flow; Enfermedad vascular; Flujo sanguíneo cerebral; Neurodegeneración; Neurodegeneration; Péptido β-amiloide; Vascular disease; β-amyloid peptide

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