Alzheimer’s Disease and the Cerebral Amyloidoses

  • Thomas M. Wisniewski
  • Henryk M. Wisniewski


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common illness characterized by the accumulation of amyloid. It was first described by Alois Alzheimer in 1907, when it was regarded as a rare and inconsequential neuropathological entity. However, since that time there has been a major reappraisal of the pathological basis of common senile dementia. AD is now known to cause well over half of the senile dementias and has become a medical, social, and economic problem of enormous dimensions. Nearly 5% of the population over the age of 65 is severely demented and approximately another 10% moderately so. Furthermore, in most Western countries it is the population over the age of 75 that is growing at the fastest rate. With advancing age, a significant proportion of the population returns to a kind of second childhood, handing over responsibility for their own care to the rest of society. Indeed, some researchers view AD as a reversal of development. There are many analogies between childhood and dementia, such as the dependency and the infantile position of advanced AD patients (Reisberg et al., 1990). Studies of aged animals and humans reveal that with the passage of time the cells, organs, and organism accumulate changes that are not seen during their peak function. One such substance that accumulates is amyloid.


Familial Mediterranean Fever Amyloid Fibril Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy Neuritic Plaque Systemic Amyloidosis 
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© Birkhäuser Boston 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas M. Wisniewski
  • Henryk M. Wisniewski

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