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1.  Fyn kinase inhibition as a novel therapy for Alzheimer’s disease 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder, afflicting more than one-third of people over the age of 85. While many therapies for AD are in late-stage clinical testing, rational drug design based on distinct signaling pathways in this disorder is only now emerging. Here we review the putative signaling pathway of amyloid-beta (Aβ), by which the tyrosine kinase Fyn is activated via cell surface binding of Aβ oligomers to cellular prion protein. Several lines of evidence implicate Fyn in the pathogenesis of AD, and its interaction with both Aβ and Tau renders Fyn a unique therapeutic target that addresses both of the major pathologic hallmarks of AD. We are currently enrolling patients in a phase Ib study of saracatinib (AZD0530), a small molecule inhibitor with high potency for Src and Fyn, for the treatment of AD. The results of this trial and a planned phase IIa multisite study will provide important data regarding the potential for this therapeutic strategy in AD.
PMCID: PMC3978417  PMID: 24495408
2.  Circulating biomarkers that predict incident dementia 
Dementia is currently diagnosed based on clinical symptoms and signs, but significant brain damage has already occurred by the time a clinical diagnosis of dementia is made, and it is increasingly recognized that this may be too late for any effective intervention. It would therefore be of great public health and preventive value to define a variety of biomarkers that could permit early detection of persons at a higher risk for developing dementia, and specifically dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. Nevertheless, for the purpose of large-scale screening, circulating biomarkers are more appropriate because they are less invasive than lumbar puncture, less costly than brain amyloid imaging and can be easily assessed repeatedly in a primary care clinic setting. In this brief review we will review a number of candidate molecules implicated as possible predictors of dementia risk. These candidates include markers of vascular injury, metabolic and inflammatory states, amyloid and tau pathway markers, measures of neural degeneration and repair efforts, and other molecules that might contribute to anatomical and functional changes characteristic of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC4056619  PMID: 25031629
3.  Chronic traumatic encephalopathy: a spectrum of neuropathological changes following repetitive brain trauma in athletes and military personnel 
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that occurs in association with repetitive traumatic brain injury experienced in sport and military service. In most instances, the clinical symptoms of the disease begin after a long period of latency ranging from several years to several decades. The initial symptoms are typically insidious, consisting of irritability, impulsivity, aggression, depression, short-term memory loss and heightened suicidality. The symptoms progress slowly over decades to include cognitive deficits and dementia. The pathology of CTE is characterized by the accumulation of phosphorylated tau protein in neurons and astrocytes in a pattern that is unique from other tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease. The hyperphosphorylated tau abnormalities begin focally, as perivascular neurofibrillary tangles and neurites at the depths of the cerebral sulci, and then spread to involve superficial layers of adjacent cortex before becoming a widespread degeneration affecting medial temporal lobe structures, diencephalon and brainstem. Most instances of CTE (>85% of cases) show abnormal accumulations of phosphorylated 43 kDa TAR DNA binding protein that are partially colocalized with phosphorylated tau protein. As CTE is characterized pathologically by frontal and temporal lobe atrophy, by abnormal deposits of phosphorylated tau and by 43 kDa TAR DNA binding protein and is associated clinically with behavioral and personality changes, as well as cognitive impairments, CTE is increasingly categorized as an acquired frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Currently, some of the greatest challenges are that CTE cannot be diagnosed during life and the incidence and prevalence of the disorder remain uncertain. Furthermore, the contribution of age, gender, genetics, stress, alcohol and substance abuse to the development of CTE remains to be determined.
PMCID: PMC3979082  PMID: 24423082
4.  Open questions for Alzheimer’s disease immunotherapy 
Perhaps more definitively than any other class of novel Alzheimer’s disease (AD) therapy, pre-clinical studies in mouse models of amyloid β (Aβ) deposition have established the disease-modifying potential of anti-Aβ immunotherapy. Despite disappointing results to date from anti-Aβ immunotherapy therapeutic trials, there is continued hope that such immunotherapies, especially if used in the preclinical stages, could prove to be the first disease-modifying therapies available for AD. The general optimism that Aβ-targeting and emerging tau-targeting immunotherapies may prove to be disease modifying is tempered by many unanswered questions regarding these therapeutic approaches, including but not limited to i) lack of precise understanding of mechanisms of action, ii) the factors that regulate antibody exposure in the brain, iii) the optimal target epitope, and iv) the mechanisms underlying side effects. In this review I discuss how answering these and other questions could increase the likelihood of therapeutic success. As passive immunotherapies are also likely to be extremely expensive, I also raise questions relating to cost-benefit of biologic-based therapies for AD that could limit future impact of these therapies by limiting access due to economic constraints.
PMCID: PMC4056616  PMID: 24393284
5.  Clinicopathologic assessment and imaging of tauopathies in neurodegenerative dementias 
Microtubule-associated protein tau encoded by the MAPT gene binds to microtubules and is important for maintaining neuronal morphology and function. Alternative splicing of MAPT pre-mRNA generates six major tau isoforms in the adult central nervous system resulting in tau proteins with three or four microtubule-binding repeat domains. In a group of neurodegenerative disorders called tauopathies, tau becomes aberrantly hyperphosphorylated and dissociates from microtubules, resulting in a progressive accumulation of intracellular tau aggregates. The spectrum of sporadic frontotemporal lobar degeneration associated with tau pathology includes progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, and Pick’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is considered the most prevalent tauopathy. This review is divided into two broad sections. In the first section we discuss the molecular classification of sporadic tauopathies, with a focus on describing clinicopathologic relationships. In the second section we discuss the neuroimaging methodologies that are available for measuring tau pathology (directly using tau positron emission tomography ligands) and tau-mediated neuronal injury (magnetic resonance imaging and fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography). Both sections have detailed descriptions of the following neurodegenerative dementias – Alzheimer’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and Pick’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3978456  PMID: 24382028
6.  Protein quality control by Rer1p in the early secretory pathway: from mechanism to implication in Alzheimer’s disease 
γ-Secretase-mediated production of amyloid β from the amyloid precursor protein is recognized as a central player in the neuropathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). One of the most peculiar features of this enzymatic activity is the fact that it targets transmembrane domains of mostly type I integral membrane proteins and thus manages to proteolyse peptide bonds within the hydrophobic lipid bilayers. In addition, γ-secretase does not exert its activity solely towards amyloid precursor protein, but to an increasing number of membrane proteins, including Notch, cadherins, syndecans, and so on. Because of the requirement of intramembrane proteolysis for a plethora of signaling pathways and cellular processes during embryonic development and organ physiology, this enzyme has drawn a lot of attention in the past 20 years. γ-Secretase is a multimeric transmembrane complex consisting of the catalytic presenilin, nicastrin, presenilin enhancer 2 (PEN2) and anterior-pharynx defective-1 (APH1) subunits. Proper assembly into functional complexes requires quality control mechanisms associated with the early biosynthetic compartments and allows mature complexes to transit to distal compartments where its activity is required. We previously identified Retrieval to ER protein 1 (Rer1p) as the first negative regulator of the stepwise assembly of γ-secretase during endoplasmic reticulum-to-Golgi transport. We review here the state of the art on how Rer1p regulates complex assembly, particularly γ-secretase, and evaluate the therapeutic potential of such regulatory processes in the context of AD.
PMCID: PMC3978424  PMID: 24314151
7.  Amyloid β-protein oligomers and Alzheimer’s disease 
The oligomer cascade hypothesis, which states that oligomers are the initiating pathologic agents in Alzheimer’s disease, has all but supplanted the amyloid cascade hypothesis, which suggested that fibers were the key etiologic agents in Alzheimer’s disease. We review here the results of in vivo, in vitro and in silico studies of amyloid β-protein oligomers, and discuss important caveats that should be considered in the evaluation of these results. This article is divided into four sections that mirror the main approaches used in the field to better understand oligomers: (1) attempts to locate and examine oligomers in vivo in situ; that is, without removing these species from their environment; (2) studies involving oligomers extracted from human or animal tissues and the subsequent characterization of their properties ex vivo; (3) studies of oligomers that have been produced synthetically and studied using a reductionist approach in relatively simple in vitro biophysical systems; and (4) computational studies of oligomers in silico. These multiple orthogonal approaches have revealed much about the molecular and cell biology of amyloid β-protein. However, as informative as these approaches have been, the amyloid β-protein oligomer system remains enigmatic.
PMCID: PMC3978746  PMID: 24289820
8.  Promising developments in neuropsychological approaches for the detection of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease: a selective review 
Recently published guidelines suggest that the most opportune time to treat individuals with Alzheimer’s disease is during the preclinical phase of the disease. This is a phase when individuals are defined as clinically normal but exhibit evidence of amyloidosis, neurodegeneration and subtle cognitive/behavioral decline. While our standard cognitive tests are useful for detecting cognitive decline at the stage of mild cognitive impairment, they were not designed for detecting the subtle cognitive variations associated with this biomarker stage of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. However, neuropsychologists are attempting to meet this challenge by designing newer cognitive measures and questionnaires derived from translational efforts in neuroimaging, cognitive neuroscience and clinical/experimental neuropsychology. This review is a selective summary of several novel, potentially promising, approaches that are being explored for detecting early cognitive evidence of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease in presymptomatic individuals.
PMCID: PMC3978443  PMID: 24257331
9.  Treating Alzheimer’s disease with monoclonal antibodies: current status and outlook for the future 
In the past decade, Alzheimer’s disease drug discovery has been directed at ‘disease modifying drugs’ that are able to counteract the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by intervening in specific parts of its neuropathological process. Passive immunization with monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) may be able to clear toxic amyloid-β species either directly or through microglia or complement activation, thereby halting the amyloid cascade and preventing neurodegeneration and cognitive and functional decline. Thus far, results from two large phase 3 trial programs with bapineuzumab and solaneuzumab, respectively, have brought rather disappointing results. Possible explanations could be that these compounds were either targeting the wrong amyloid-β species, or were given too late in the disease process. Several new mAbs targeting various amyloid-β epitopes are now being tested in ongoing phase 2 and 3 clinical trials. The present review discusses the various mAbs aimed at amyloid-β, summarizes trial results and provides an outlook for the future.
PMCID: PMC3978826  PMID: 24216217
10.  Autophagic/lysosomal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease 
Autophagy serves as the sole catabolic mechanism for degrading organelles and protein aggregates. Increasing evidence implicates autophagic dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative diseases associated with protein misprocessing and accumulation. Under physiologic conditions, the autophagic/lysosomal system efficiently recycles organelles and substrate proteins. However, reduced autophagy function leads to the accumulation of proteins and autophagic and lysosomal vesicles. These vesicles contain toxic lysosomal hydrolases as well as the proper cellular machinery to generate amyloid-beta, the major component of AD plaques. Here, we provide an overview of current research focused on the relevance of autophagic/lysosomal dysfunction in AD pathogenesis as well as potential therapeutic targets aimed at restoring autophagic/lysosomal pathway function.
PMCID: PMC3979020  PMID: 24171818
11.  Alpha-synuclein biology in Lewy body diseases 
α-Synuclein is an abundantly expressed neuronal protein that is at the center of focus in understanding a group of neurodegenerative disorders called α-synucleinopathies, which are characterized by the presence of aggregated α-synuclein intracellularly. Primary α-synucleinopathies include Parkinson’s disease (PD), dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy, with α-synuclein also found secondarily in a number of other diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding how α-synuclein aggregates form in these different disorders is important for the understanding of its pathogenesis in Lewy body diseases. PD is the most prevalent of the α-synucleinopathies and much of the initial research on α-synuclein Lewy body pathology was based on PD but is also relevant to Lewy bodies in other diseases (dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer’s disease). Polymorphism and mutation studies of SNCA, the gene that encodes α-synuclein, provide much evidence for a causal link between α-synuclein and PD. Among the primary α-synucleinopathies, multiple system atrophy is unique in that α-synuclein deposition occurs in oligodendrocytes rather than neurons. It is unclear whether α-synuclein originates from oligodendrocytes or whether it is transmitted somehow from neurons. α-Synuclein exists as a natively unfolded monomer in the cytosol, but in the presence of lipid membranes it is thought to undergo a conformational change to a folded α-helical secondary structure that is prone to forming dimers and oligomers. Posttranslational modification of α-synuclein, such as phosphorylation, ubiquitination and nitration, has been widely implicated in α-synuclein aggregation process and neurotoxicity. Recent studies using animal and cell models, as well as autopsy studies of patients with neuron transplants, provided compelling evidence for prion-like propagation of α-synuclein. This observation has implications for therapeutic strategies, and much recent effort is focused on developing antibodies that target extracellular α-synuclein.
PMCID: PMC4288216  PMID: 25580161
12.  Propagation of tau pathology in Alzheimer’s disease: identification of novel therapeutic targets 
Accumulation and aggregation of the microtubule-associated protein tau are a pathological hallmark of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In AD, tau becomes abnormally phosphorylated and forms inclusions throughout the brain, starting in the entorhinal cortex and progressively affecting additional brain regions as the disease progresses. Formation of these inclusions is thought to lead to synapse loss and cell death. Tau is also found in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and elevated levels are a biomarker for AD. Until recently, it was thought that the presence of tau in the CSF was due to the passive release of aggregated tau from dead or dying tangle-bearing neurons. However, accumulating evidence from different AD model systems suggests that tau is actively secreted and transferred between synaptically connected neurons. Transgenic mouse lines with localized expression of aggregating human tau in the entorhinal cortex have demonstrated that, as these animals age, tau becomes mislocalized from axons to cell bodies and dendrites and that human tau-positive aggregates form first in the entorhinal cortex and later in downstream projection targets. Numerous in vitro and in vivo studies have provided insight into the mechanisms by which tau may be released and internalized by neurons and have started to provide insight into how tau pathology may spread in AD. In this review, we discuss the evidence for regulated tau release and its specific uptake by neurons. Furthermore, we identify possible therapeutic targets for preventing the propagation of tau pathology, as inhibition of tau transfer may restrict development of tau tangles in a small subset of neurons affected in early stages of AD and therefore prevent widespread neuron loss and cognitive dysfunction associated with later stages of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3978816  PMID: 24152385
13.  Biomarkers in biological fluids for dementia with Lewy bodies 
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) has become the second most common neurodegenerative dementia due to demographic ageing. Differential diagnosis is still troublesome especially in early stages of the disease, since there is a great clinical and neuropathological overlap primarily with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, more specific biomarkers, not only for scientific reasons but also for clinical therapeutic decision-making, are urgently needed. In this review, we summarize the knowledge on fluid biomarkers for DLB, derived predominantly from cerebrospinal fluid. We discuss the value of well-defined markers (β-amyloid, (phosphorylated) tau, α-synuclein) as well as some promising ‘upcoming’ substances, which still have to be further evaluated.
PMCID: PMC4255553  PMID: 25478030
14.  Clinical subtypes of chronic traumatic encephalopathy: literature review and proposed research diagnostic criteria for traumatic encephalopathy syndrome 
The long-term consequences of repetitive head impacts have been described since the early 20th century. Terms such as punch drunk and dementia pugilistica were first used to describe the clinical syndromes experienced by boxers. A more generic designation, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), has been employed since the mid-1900s and has been used in recent years to describe a neurodegenerative disease found not just in boxers but in American football players, other contact sport athletes, military veterans, and others with histories of repetitive brain trauma, including concussions and subconcussive trauma. This article reviews the literature of the clinical manifestations of CTE from 202 published cases. The clinical features include impairments in mood (for example, depression and hopelessness), behavior (for example, explosivity and violence), cognition (for example, impaired memory, executive functioning, attention, and dementia), and, less commonly, motor functioning (for example, parkinsonism, ataxia, and dysarthria). We present proposed research criteria for traumatic encephalopathy syndrome (TES) which consist of four variants or subtypes (TES behavioral/mood variant, TES cognitive variant, TES mixed variant, and TES dementia) as well as classifications of ‘probable CTE’ and ‘possible CTE’. These proposed criteria are expected to be modified and updated as new research findings become available. They are not meant to be used for a clinical diagnosis. Rather, they should be viewed as research criteria that can be employed in studies of the underlying causes, risk factors, differential diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of CTE and related disorders.
PMCID: PMC4288217  PMID: 25580160
15.  Considerations for animal models of blast-related traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy 
The association of military blast exposure and brain injury was first appreciated in World War I as commotio cerebri, and later as shell shock. Similar injuries sustained in modern military conflicts are now classified as mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). Recent research has yielded new insights into the mechanisms by which blast exposure leads to acute brain injury and chronic sequelae, including postconcussive syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, post-traumatic headache, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a tau protein neurodegenerative disease. Impediments to delivery of effective medical care for individuals affected by blast-related TBI include: poor insight into the heterogeneity of neurological insults induced by blast exposure; limited understanding of the mechanisms by which blast exposure injures the brain and triggers sequelae; failure to appreciate interactive injuries that affect frontal lobe function, pituitary regulation, and neurovegetative homeostasis; unknown influence of genetic risk factors, prior trauma, and comorbidities; absence of validated diagnostic criteria and clinical nosology that differentiate clinical endophenotypes; and lack of empirical evidence to guide medical management and therapeutic intervention. While clinicopathological analysis can provide evidence of correlative association, experimental use of animal models remains the primary tool for establishing causal mechanisms of disease. However, the TBI field is confronted by a welter of animal models with varying clinical relevance, thereby impeding scientific coherence and hindering translational progress. Animal models of blast TBI will be far more translationally useful if experimental emphasis focuses on accurate reproduction of clinically relevant endpoints (output) rather than scaled replication of idealized blast shockwaves (input). The utility of an animal model is dependent on the degree to which the model recapitulates pathophysiological mechanisms, neuropathological features, and neurological sequelae observed in the corresponding human disorder. Understanding the purpose of an animal model and the criteria by which experimental results derived from the model are validated are critical components for useful animal modeling. Animal models that reliably demonstrate clinically relevant endpoints will expedite development of new treatments, diagnostics, preventive measures, and rehabilitative strategies for individuals affected by blast TBI and its aftermath.
PMCID: PMC4255537  PMID: 25478023
16.  Moving beyond the pros and cons of automating cognitive testing in pathological aging and dementia: the case for equal opportunity 
The lack of progress over the last decade in developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease has called into question the quality of the cognitive assessments used while also shifting the emphasis from treatment to prophylaxis by studying the disorder at earlier stages, even prior to the development of cognitive symptoms. This has led various groups to seek cognitive tests which are more sensitive than those currently used and which can be meaningfully administered to individuals with mild or even no cognitive impairment. Although computerized tests have long been used in this field, they have made little inroads compared with non-automated tests. This review attempts to put in perspective the relative utilities of automated and non-automated tests of cognitive function in therapeutic trials of pathological aging and the dementias. Also by a review of the automation of cognitive tests over the last 150 years, it is hoped that the notion that such procedures are novel compared with pencil-and-paper testing will be dispelled. Furthermore, data will be presented to illustrate that older individuals and patients with dementia are neither stressed nor disadvantaged when tested with appropriately developed computerized methods. An important aspect of automated testing is that it can assess all aspects of task performance, including the speed of cognitive processes, and data are presented on the advantages this can confer in clinical trials. The ultimate objectives of the review are to encourage decision making in the field to move away from the automated/non-automated dichotomy and to develop criteria pertinent to each trial against which all available procedures are evaluated. If we are to make serious progress in this area, we must use the best tools available, and the evidence suggests that automated testing has earned the right to be judged against the same criteria as non-automated tests.
PMCID: PMC4255527  PMID: 25478021
17.  Imago Mundi, Imago AD, Imago ADNI 
Since the launch in 2003 of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) in the USA, ever growing, similarly oriented consortia have been organized and assembled around the world. The various accomplishments of ADNI have contributed substantially to a better understanding of the underlying physiopathology of aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). These accomplishments are basically predicated in the trinity of multimodality, standardization and sharing. This multimodality approach can now better identify those subjects with AD-specific traits that are more likely to present cognitive decline in the near future and that might represent the best candidates for smaller but more efficient therapeutic trials – trials that, through gained and shared knowledge, can be more focused on a specific target or a specific stage of the disease process. In summary, data generated from ADNI have helped elucidate some of the pathophysiological mechanisms underpinning aging and AD pathology, while contributing to the international effort in setting the groundwork for biomarker discovery and establishing standards for early diagnosis of AD.
PMCID: PMC4255533  PMID: 25478022
18.  Adjusting the compass: new insights into the role of angiogenesis in Alzheimer’s disease 
Growing evidence suggests that vascular perturbation plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). It appears to be a common feature in addition to the classic pathological hallmarks of amyloid beta (Aβ) plaques and neurofibrillary. Moreover, the accumulation of Aβ in the cerebral vasculature is closely associated with cognitive decline, and disruption of the blood–brain barrier (BBB) has been shown to coincide with the onset of cognitive impairment. Although it was originally hypothesized that the accumulation of Aβ and the subsequent disruption of the BBB were due to the impaired clearance of Aβ from the brain, a body of data now suggests an alternative hypothesis for vascular dysfunction in AD that amyloidogenesis promotes extensive neoangiogenesis leading to increased vascular permeability and subsequent hypervascularization. In this review, we discuss the role Aβ plays in angiogenesis of the neurovasculature and BBB and how it may contribute to the pathogenesis of AD. These studies suggest that interventions that directly or indirectly affect angiogenesis could have beneficial effects on amyloid and other pathways in AD.
PMCID: PMC4056615  PMID: 24351529
19.  Cerebral microbleeds: overview and implications in cognitive impairment 
Cerebral microbleeds (MBs) are small chronic brain hemorrhages which are likely caused by structural abnormalities of the small vessels of the brain. Owing to the paramagnetic properties of blood degradation products, MBs can be detected in vivo by using specific magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences. Over the last decades, the implementation of these MRI sequences in both epidemiological and clinical studies has revealed MBs as a common finding in many different populations, including healthy individuals. Also, the topographic distribution of these MBs has been shown to be potentially associated with specific underlying vasculopathies. However, the clinical and prognostic significance of these small hemorrhages is still a matter of debate as well as a focus of extensive research. In this article, we aim to review the current knowledge on the pathophysiology and clinical implications of MBs, with special emphasis on the links between lobar MBs, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC4075149  PMID: 24987468
20.  Fluid biomarkers for diagnosing dementia: rationale and the Canadian Consensus on Diagnosis and Treatment of Dementia recommendations for Canadian physicians 
Alzheimer's Research & Therapy  2013;5(Suppl 1):S8.
Fluid biomarkers improve the diagnostic accuracy in dementia and provide an objective measure potentially useful as a therapeutic response in clinical trials. The role of fluid biomarkers in patient care is a rapidly evolving field. Here, we provide a review and recommendations regarding the use of fluid biomarkers in clinical practice as discussed at the Fourth Canadian Consensus Conference on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Dementia (CCCDTD4) convened in Montreal, 4 to 5 May 2012. At present, there is no consensus regarding the optimal methodology for conducting quantification of plasma amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptides. In addition, since there is insufficient evidence supporting clinical applications for plasma Aβ-peptide measures, the CCCDTD4 does not recommended plasma biomarkers either for primary care or for specialists. Evidence for CSF Aβ1-42, total tau and phosphorylated tau in the diagnosis of Alzheimer pathology is much stronger, and can be considered at the tertiary care level for selected cases to improve diagnostic certainty, particularly in those cases presenting atypical clinical features.
PMCID: PMC3980280  PMID: 24565514
21.  Cognitive training and cognitive rehabilitation for persons with mild to moderate dementia of the Alzheimer's or vascular type: a review 
Cognitive impairments, and particularly memory deficits, are a defining feature of the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Interventions that target these cognitive deficits and the associated difficulties with activities of daily living are the subject of ever-growing interest. Cognitive training and cognitive rehabilitation are specific forms of non-pharmacological intervention to address cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes. The present review is an abridged version of a Cochrane Review and aims to systematically evaluate the evidence for these forms of intervention in people with mild Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), published in English, comparing cognitive rehabilitation or cognitive training interventions with control conditions and reporting relevant outcomes for the person with dementia or the family caregiver (or both), were considered for inclusion. Eleven RCTs reporting cognitive training interventions were included in the review. A large number of measures were used in the different studies, and meta-analysis could be conducted for several primary and secondary outcomes of interest. Several outcomes were not measured in any of the studies. Overall estimates of the treatment effect were calculated by using a fixed-effects model, and statistical heterogeneity was measured by using a standard chi-squared statistic. One RCT of cognitive rehabilitation was identified, allowing the examination of effect sizes, but no meta-analysis could be conducted. Cognitive training was not associated with positive or negative effects in relation to any of the reported outcomes. The overall quality of the trials was low to moderate. The single RCT of cognitive rehabilitation found promising results in relation to some patient and caregiver outcomes and was generally of high quality. The available evidence regarding cognitive training remains limited, and the quality of the evidence needs to improve. However, there is still no indication of any significant benefits from cognitive training. Trial reports indicate that some gains resulting from intervention may not be captured adequately by available standardized outcome measures. The results of the single RCT of cognitive rehabilitation show promise but are preliminary in nature. Further well-designed studies of cognitive training and cognitive rehabilitation are required to provide more definitive evidence. Researchers should describe and classify their interventions appropriately by using the available terminology.
PMCID: PMC3979126  PMID: 23924584
22.  Early-onset dementias: diagnostic and etiological considerations 
Alzheimer's Research & Therapy  2013;5(Suppl 1):S7.
This paper summarizes the body of literature about early-onset dementia (EOD) that led to recommendations from the Fourth Canadian Consensus Conference on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Dementia. A broader differential diagnosis is required for EOD compared with late-onset dementia. Delays in diagnosis are common, and the social impact of EOD requires special care teams. The etiologies underlying EOD syndromes should take into account family history and comorbid diseases, such as cerebrovascular risk factors, that may influence the clinical presentation and age at onset. For example, although many EODs are more likely to have Mendelian genetic and/or metabolic causes, the presence of comorbidities may drive the individual at risk for late-onset dementia to manifest the symptoms at an earlier age, which contributes further to the observed heterogeneity and may confound diagnostic investigation. A personalized medicine approach to diagnosis should therefore be considered depending on the age at onset, clinical presentation, and comorbidities. Genetic counseling and testing as well as specialized biochemical screening are often required, especially in those under the age of 40 and in those with a family history of autosomal dominant or recessive disease. Novel treatments in the drug development pipeline for EOD, such as genetic forms of Alzheimer's disease, should target the specific pathogenic cascade implicated by the mutation or biochemical defect.
PMCID: PMC3936399  PMID: 24565469
23.  Epidemiology of neurodegeneration in American-style professional football players 
The purpose of this article is to review the history of head injuries in relation to American-style football play, summarize recent research that has linked football head injuries to neurodegeneration, and provide a discussion of the next steps for refining the examination of neurodegeneration in football players. For most of the history of football, the focus of media reports and scientific studies on football-related head injuries was on the acute or short-term effects of serious, traumatic head injuries. Beginning about 10 years ago, a growing concern developed among neurologists and researchers about the long-term effects that playing professional football has on the neurologic health of the players. Autopsy-based studies identified a pathologically distinct neurodegenerative disorder, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, among athletes who were known to have experienced concussive and subconcussive blows to the head during their playing careers. Football players have been well represented in these autopsy findings. A mortality study of a large cohort of retired professional football players found a significantly increased risk of death from neurodegeneration. Further analysis found that non-line players were at higher risk than line players, possibly because of an increased risk of concussion. Although the results of the studies reviewed do not establish a cause effect relationship between football-related head injury and neurodegenerative disorders, a growing body of research supports the hypothesis that professional football players are at an increased risk of neurodegeneration. Significant progress has been made in the last few years on detecting and defining the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases. However, less progress has been made on other factors related to the progression of those diseases in football players. This review identifies three areas for further research: (a) quantification of exposure - a consensus is needed on the use of clinically practical measurements of blows to the head among football players; (b) genetic susceptibility factors - a more rigorous set of unbiased epidemiological and clinical studies is needed before any causal relationships can be drawn between suspected genetic factors, head injury, and neurodegeneration; and (c) earlier detection and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3978683  PMID: 23876143
24.  Evidence for impaired amyloid β clearance in Alzheimer's disease 
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a common neurodegenerative disease characterized by the accumulation of extracellular plaques and intracellular tangles. Recent studies support the hypothesis that the accumulation of amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide within the brain arises from an imbalance of the production and clearance of Aβ. In rare genetic forms of AD, this imbalance is often caused by increased production of Aβ. However, recent evidence indicates that, in the majority of cases of AD, Aβ clearance is impaired. Apolipoprotein E (ApoE), the dominant cholesterol and lipid carrier in the brain, is critical for Aβ catabolism. The isoform of ApoE and its degree of lipidation critically regulate the efficiency of Aβ clearance. Studies in preclinical models of AD have demonstrated that coordinately increasing levels of ApoE and its lipid transporter, ABCA1, increases the clearance of Aβ, suggesting that this pathway may be a potential therapeutic target for AD.
PMCID: PMC3978761  PMID: 23849219
25.  Knowledge translation: an overview and recommendations in relation to the Fourth Canadian Consensus Conference on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Dementia 
Alzheimer's Research & Therapy  2013;5(Suppl 1):S6.
The growing population of persons with dementia in Canada and the provision of quality care for this population is an issue that no healthcare authority will escape. Physicians often view dementia as a difficult and time-consuming condition to diagnose and manage. Current evidence must be effectively transformed into usable recommendations for physicians; however, we know that use of evidence-based practice recommendations is a challenge in all realms of medical care, and failure to utilize these leads to less than optimal care for patients. Despite this expanding need for readily available resources, knowledge translation (KT) is often seen as a daunting, if not confusing, undertaking for researchers. Here we offer a brief introduction to the processes around KT, including terms and definitions, and outline some common KT frameworks including the knowledge to action cycle, the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services framework and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. We also outline practical steps for planning and executing a KT strategy particularly around the implementation of recommendations for practice, and offer recommendations for KT planning in relation to the Fourth Canadian Consensus Conference on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Dementia.
PMCID: PMC3980259  PMID: 24565407

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