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Ageing Res Rev. 2016 Jul;28:72-84. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2016.04.005. Epub 2016 Apr 20.

Synaptic pathology: A shared mechanism in neurological disease.

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Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems, 1 George Square, University of Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, UK.
Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems, 1 George Square, University of Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, UK; Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research, Chancellor's Building, 49 Little France Crescent, University of Edinburgh, EH16 4SB, UK; Centre for Dementia Prevention, University of Edinburgh Kennedy Tower, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, EH10 5HF, UK. Electronic address:


Synaptic proteomes have evolved a rich and complex diversity to allow the exquisite control of neuronal communication and information transfer. It is therefore not surprising that many neurological disorders are associated with alterations in synaptic function. As technology has advanced, our ability to study the anatomical and physiological function of synapses in greater detail has revealed a critical role for both central and peripheral synapses in neurodegenerative disease. Synapse loss has a devastating effect on cellular communication, leading to wide ranging effects such as network disruption within central neural systems and muscle wastage in the periphery. These devastating effects link synaptic pathology to a diverse range of neurological disorders, spanning Alzheimer's disease to multiple sclerosis. This review will highlight some of the current literature on synaptic integrity in animal models of disease and human post-mortem studies. Synaptic changes in normal brain ageing will also be discussed and finally the current and prospective treatments for neurodegenerative disorders will be summarised.


Ageing; Alzheimer’s; Neurodegeneration; Pathology; Synapse loss

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