Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most prevalent form of dementia, affecting an estimated 4.8 million people in North America. For the past decade, the amyloid cascade hypothesis has dominated the field of AD research. This theory posits that the deposition of amyloid-beta protein (Aβ) in the brain is the key pathologic event in AD, which induces a series of neuropathological changes that manifest as cognitive decline and eventual dementia. Based on this theory, interventions that reduce Aβ burden in the brain would be expected to alleviate both the neuropathological changes and dementia, which characterize AD. Several diverse pharmacological strategies have been developed to accomplish this. These include inhibiting the formation of Aβ, preventing the aggregation of Aβ into insoluble aggregates, preventing the entry of Aβ into the brain from the periphery and enhancing the clearance of Aβ from the central nervous system. To date, no amyloid-modifying therapy has yet been successful in phase 3 clinical trials; however, several trials are currently underway. This article provides a review of the status of amyloid-modifying therapies and the implications for the amyloid cascade hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-384
Number of pages20
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid cascade hypothesis
  • Beta-amyloid
  • Cognition
  • Secretase
  • Vaccination


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