Neuropathology of the Aging Brain and Dementia of the Alzheimer Type

  • Henryk M. Wisniewski
  • George S. Merz


The two most prominent histopathological changes found in high numbers in the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brain are the neurofibrillary tangle and the neuritic and amyloid plaque. Each of these lesions is characterized by an accumulation of proteinaceous fibrous profiles (the paired helical filaments) and amyloid fibers, respectively. These structures are not only distinguishable from each other but from all of the normal cellular filaments as well. Both lesions are also found, in low numbers, in the brains of aged, but otherwise clinically normal, individuals. This quantitative difference between age-associated pathology and the AD brain implies that the cause(s) responsible for the lesions may be fundamentally the same and differ only in degree.

The association of plaques with scrapie and other slow, unconventional virus infections supports the hypothesis of an infectious etiology for Alzheimer’s disease.


Neurofibrillary Tangle Amyloid Deposit Amyloid Plaque Senile Plaque Aging Brain 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henryk M. Wisniewski
  • George S. Merz

There are no affiliations available

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