Critically attained threshold of cerebral hypoperfusion: can it cause Alzheimer’s disease?

Critically attained threshold of cerebral hypoperfusion: can it cause Alzheimer’s disease?

de la Torre JC.


Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093, USA.


After nearly a century of inquiry, the cause of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (AD) remains to be found. On the subject of AD pathogenesis, recent basic and clinical evidence strongly argues in favor of the concept that AD is linked to brain circulatory pathology. This concept, when viewed from many different medical disciplines and from close pre-morbid similarities to vascular dementia, assembles and hypothetically explains most of the key pathologic events associated with the development of AD. These pathologic events are triggered in AD by impaired cerebral perfusion originating in the microvasculature which affects the optimal delivery of glucose and oxygen and results in an energy metabolic breakdown of brain cell biosynthetic and synaptic pathways. We propose that two factors converge to initiate cognitive dysfunction and neurodegeneration as expressed in AD brain: (1) advanced aging, and (2) the presence of a condition that lowers cerebral perfusion. The first factor introduces a normal but potentially deconstructing process that lowers cerebral blood flow in proportion to increased aging, whereas the second factor adds a crucial burden that further lowers brain perfusion to a critical threshold that triggers neuronal metabolic compromise. When age and a condition that lowers cerebral perfusion converge, critically attained threshold of cerebral hypoperfusion (CATCH) results. CATCH is a cyclical and progressive cerebrovascular insufficiency that will destabilize neurons, synapses, neurotransmission, and cognitive ability, eventually evolving into a neurodegenerative process characterized by the formation of senile plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, and amyloid angiopathy. The concept of impaired cerebral perfusion as the cause of this dementia also explains the heterogeneic profile observed in AD patients, because an extensive list of risk factors for AD are also reported to significantly diminish blood flow to the aging brain.

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