Cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) represents the deposition of amyloid β protein (Aβ) in the meningeal and intracerebral vessels. It is often observed as an accompanying lesion of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or in the brain of elderly individuals even in the absence of dementia. CAA is largely age-dependent. In subjects with severe CAA a higher frequency of vascular lesions has been reported. The goal of our study was to define the frequency and distribution of CAA in a one-year autopsy population (91 cases) from the Department of Internal Medicine, Rehabilitation, and Geriatrics, Geneva.
Materials and methods
Five brain regions were examined, including the hippocampus, and the inferior temporal, frontal, parietal, and occipital cortex, using an antibody against Aβ, and simultaneously assessing the severity of AD-type pathology with Braak stages for neurofibrillary tangles identified with an anti-tau antibody. In parallel, the relationships of CAA with vascular brain lesions were established.
CAA was present in 53.8% of the studied population, even in cases without AD (50.6%). The strongest correlation was seen between CAA and age, followed by the severity of amyloid plaques deposition. Microinfarcts were more frequent in cases with CAA; however, our results did not confirm a correlation between these parameters.
The present data show that CAA plays a role in the development of microvascular lesions in the aging brain, but cannot be considered as the most important factor in this vascular pathology, suggesting that other mechanisms also contributes importantly to the pathogenesis of microvascular changes.