Alzheimer's disease and the fornix

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of neurodegenerative dementia. Researchers have long been focused on the cortical pathology of AD, since the most important pathologic features are the senile plaques found in the cortex, and the neurofibrillary tangles and neuronal loss that begin in the entorhinal cortex and the hippocampus. In addition to these gray matter (GM) structures, histopathological studies indicate that the white matter (WM) is also a good target for both the early diagnosis of AD and for monitoring disease progression. The fornix is a WM bundle that constitutes a core element of the limbic circuits, and is one of the most important anatomical structures related to memory. Functional and anatomical features of the fornix have naturally captured researchers' attention as possible diagnostic and prognostic markers of AD. Indeed, neurodegeneration of the fornix has been histologically observed in AD, and growing evidence indicates that the alterations seen in the fornix are potentially a good marker to predict future conversion from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to AD, and even from cognitively normal individuals to AD. The degree of alteration is correlated with the degree of memory impairment, indicating the potential for the use of the fornix as a functional marker. Moreover, there have been attempts to stimulate the fornix using deep brain stimulation (DBS) to augment cognitive function in AD, and ongoing research has suggested positive effects of DBS on brain glucose metabolism in AD patients. On the other hand, disease specificity for fornix degeneration, methodologies to evaluate fornix degeneration, and the clinical significance of the fornix DBS, especially for the long-term impact on the quality of life, are mostly unknown and need to be elucidated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number241
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Volume6
Issue numberSEP
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Fornix
  • Limbic system
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Alzheimer's disease and the fornix'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this