Scientists Rethink Alzheimer's-Plaque Connection

The real culprit may be clogged blood vessels, studies suggest

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FRIDAY, July 22, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, an accumulation of plaque deposits in brain tissues, may trigger the disorder in a way experts have not considered before.

Two sets of researchers now believe that plaque formed by the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins might cause Alzheimer's disease by clogging cerebral blood vessels, as opposed to the brain itself.

The findings appear in the August issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

These plaque blockages led to neuroinflammation in two sets of mice, along with blood vessel damage and blood-brain barrier damage, the researchers report.

Scientists have long known that these plaques are a sign of Alzheimer's disease, but doctors have not agreed so far on whether -- or how -- they contribute to dementia.

The research was conducted by scientists at Stony Brook University in New York and at the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology at the University of Antwerp in Belgium.

More information

The National Institutes of Health has more about Alzheimer's disease.

SOURCES: American Journal of Pathology, news release, July 21, 2005

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