Causes and consequences of baseline cerebral blood flow reductions in Alzheimer’s disease

Oliver Bracko , Jean C Cruz Hernandez, Laibaik Park, Nozomi Nishimura and Chris B Schaffer

Journal of Cerebral Blood flow and Metabolism (2021)

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Reductions of baseline cerebral blood flow (CBF) of ∼10–20% are a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that appear early in disease progression and correlate with the severity of cognitive impairment. These CBF deficits are replicated in mouse models of AD and recent work shows that increasing baseline CBF can rapidly improve the performance of AD mice on short term memory tasks. Despite the potential role these data suggest for CBF reductions in causing cognitive symptoms and contributing to brain pathology in AD, there remains a poor understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms causing them. This review compiles data on CBF reductions and on the correlation of AD-related CBF deficits with disease comorbidities (e.g. cardiovascular and genetic risk factors) and outcomes (e.g. cognitive performance and brain pathology) from studies in both patients and mouse models, and discusses several potential mechanisms proposed to contribute to CBF reductions, based primarily on work in AD mouse models. Future research aimed at improving our understanding of the importance of and interplay between different mechanisms for CBF reduction, as well as at determining the role these mechanisms play in AD patients could guide the development of future therapies that target CBF reductions in AD.

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