Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Amyloid Plaques

  • Elizabeth K. VernonEmail author
  • JoAnn Tschanz
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_490


Diffuse plaques; Neuritic plaques; Senile plaques


An aggregation of beta-amyloid protein found in the extracellular space between neurons in the brain. Amyloid plaques may be of diffuse, pre-amyloid type or neuritic, mature senile type. The latter is recognized as one of the neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Mature amyloid plaques are spherical in shape and consist of a central beta-amyloid core, fibrillary outward extensions, and surrounding dystrophic neurites (elements of degenerating neurons). Unlike the mature, senile plaques, diffuse plaques have an amorphous, irregular shape and lack the surrounding neurites (Serrano-Pozo et al. 2011).

Current Knowledge

It is unknown if the diffuse plaques later form into senile plaques. Both plaque types contain the amyloid β protein (Aβ), a portion of a larger neuronal transmembrane protein of unknown function. Other differences between senile and diffuse plaques include the constituent Aβ protein and...

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References and Readings

  1. Braak, H., & Braak, E. (1991). Acta H ’ pathologica Neuropathological stageing of Alzheimer-related changes, 239–259.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Morris, J. H., & Nagy, Z. (2004). Alzheimer’s disease. In M. M. Esiri, V. M.-Y. Lee, & J. Q. Trojanowski (Eds.), The neuropathology of dementia (2nd ed., pp. 161–206). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Serrano-Pozo, A., Frosch, M. P., Masliah, E., & Hyman, B. T. (2011). Neuropathological alterations in Alzheimer disease. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine, 1(1), a006189.  https://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a006189PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Thal, D. R., Rüb, U., Orantes, M., & Braak, H. (2002). Phases of Aβ-deposition in the human brain and its relevance for the development of AD. Neurology, 58(12), 1791 LP – 1800. Retrieved from http://n.neurology.org/content/58/12/1791

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Center for Epidemiologic StudiesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA