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Neurology. 1996 Feb;46(2):406-12.

Familial and sporadic Alzheimer's disease: neuropathology cannot exclude a final common pathway.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, MA, USA.


Whether all etiologic forms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) share a final common pathway is a major issue. We determined the severity and regional distribution of neuronal loss, amyloid plaques, neuritic plaques (NPs), and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), and calculated the ratio of neuronal loss to NPs and NFTs in brains of 19 familial AD (FAD) patients with linkage to chromosome 14, six AD patients with mutations of chromosome 21 (codon 717 of the beta-amyloid percursor protein gene), and 11 sporadic AD (SAD) patients. There was no difference in the pattern of distribution of the various pathologic features or in the ratio of neuronal loss to NPs or NFTs in any AD group. However, FAD groups could be distinguished from SAD by the greater severity and the lack of influence of apolipoprotein E genotype on pathology. These differences may reflect differences in age at onset rather than different etiopathologic mechanisms. The similarity of pathologic findings in the different AD groups provides evidence for a final common pathophysiologic pathway in AD.

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