Vascular and metabolic dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease: a review.
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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is thought to start years or decades prior to clinical diagnosis. Overt pathology such as protein misfolding and plaque formation occur at later stages, and factors other than amyloid misfolding contribute to the initiation of the disease. Vascular and metabolic dysfunctions are excellent candidates, as they are well-known features of AD that precede pathology or clinical dementia. While the general notion that vascular and metabolic dysfunctions contribute to the etiology of AD is becoming accepted, recent research suggests novel mechanisms by which these/such processes could possibly contribute to AD pathogenesis. Vascular dysfunction includes reduced cerebrovascular flow and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. Indeed, there appears to be an interaction between amyloid (A) and vascular pathology, where A production and vascular pathology both contribute to and are affected by oxidative stress. One major player in the vascular pathology is NAD(P)H oxidase, which generates vasoactive superoxide. Metabolic dysfunction has only recently regained popularity in relation to its potential role in AD. The role of metabolic dysfunction in AD is supported by the increased epidemiological risk of AD associated with several metabolic diseases such as diabetes, dyslipidemia and hypertension, in which there is elevated oxidative damage and insulin resistance. Metabolic dysfunction is further implicated in AD as pharmacological inhibition of metabolism exacerbates pathology, and several metabolic enzymes of the glycolytic, tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) and oxidative phosphorylation pathways are damaged in AD. Recent studies have highlighted the role of insulin resistance, in contributing to AD. Thus, vascular and metabolic dysfunctions are key components in the AD pathology throughout the course of disease. The common denominator between vascular and metabolic dysfunction emerging from this review appears to be oxidative stress and A. This review also provides a framework for evaluation of current and future therapeutics for AD.