A systemic view of Alzheimer disease — insights from amyloid-β metabolism beyond the brain

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Abstract | Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia, and is currently incurable; existing treatments for AD produce only a modest amelioration of symptoms. Research into this disease has conventionally focused on the CNS. However, several peripheral and systemic abnormalities are now understood to be linked to AD, and our understanding of how these alterations contribute to AD is becoming more clearly defined. This Review focuses on amyloid-β (Aβ), a major hallmark of AD. We review emerging findings of associations between systemic abnormalities and Aβ metabolism, and describe how these associations might interact with or reflect on the central pathways of Aβ production and clearance. On the basis of these findings, we propose that these abnormal systemic changes might not only develop secondary to brain dysfunction but might also affect AD progression, suggesting that the interactions between the brain and the periphery have a crucial role in the development and progression of AD. Such a systemic view of the molecular pathogenesis of AD could provide a novel perspective for understanding this disease and present new opportunities for its early diagnosis and treatment.

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