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Vascular basis for brain degeneration: Faltering controls and risk factors for dementia

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Raj Kalaria


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The integrity of the vascular system is essential for the efficient functioning of the brain. Aging-related structural and functional disturbances in the macro- or microcirculation of the brain make it vulnerable to cognitive dysfunction, leading to brain degeneration and dementing illness. Several faltering controls, including impairment in autoregulation, neurovascular coupling, blood-brain barrier leakage, decreased cerebrospinal fluid, and reduced vascular tone, appear to be responsible for varying degrees of neurodegeneration in old age. There is ample evidence to indicate vascular risk factors are also linked to neurodegenerative processes preceding cognitive decline and dementia. The strongest risk factor for brain degeneration, whether it results from vascular or neurodegenerative mechanisms or both, is age. However, several modifiable risks such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, and obesity enhance the rate of cognitive decline and increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease in particular. The ultimate accumulation of brain pathological lesions may be modified by genetic influences, such as the apolipoprotein E ε4 allele and the environment. Lifestyle measures that maintain or improve cardiovascular health, including consumption of healthy diets, moderate use of alcohol, and implementation of regular physical exercise are important factors for brain protection. © 2010 International Life Sciences Institute.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kalaria R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nutrition Reviews

Year: 2010

Volume: 68

Issue: 2

Pages: s74-s87

Print publication date: 23/11/2010

ISSN (print): 0029-6643

ISSN (electronic): 1753-4887

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00352.x


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