Alzheimer's disease (AD), as we think of it today, is the idiopathic progressive loss of cognitive function over a period of several years. The risk of late onset dementia increases significantly with each decade of life such that half of the population over the age of 80 is vulnerable to this disease (1). We know that proper functioning of the central nervous system is dependent on adequate blood flow to remove harmful metabolic products and supply nutrients such as glucose and oxygen to the brain. It has been suggested that cerebral hypoperfusion causes AD (2). Mean cerebral blood flow decreases with age and with sclerosis of cerebral blood vessels. Blood flow appears to increase in stimulated areas of the brain during different activities. However, there is a derangement of blood flow in disease states; this has been documented in the temporal lobes of AD patients, (3,4). English language journal articles located by a MEDLINE search (1960-1999) were reviewed with consideration to the hypothesis that Alzheimer's disease is an autoimmune disease initiated by low oxygen tension and microischemia. Inflammation is thought to be a known contributor to the pathology of AD (5,6). Recent reports support the concept of autoimmunity as a final common pathway of neuron death, particularly for cholinergic in Alzheimer's disease (6). A model of Alzheimer's disease is proposed and related research and treatment modalities are discussed.
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