Alzheimer's disease historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Syed Hassan A. Kazmi BSc, MD [2]

Overview

The first case of Alzheimer's disease was described by a German psychiatrist named Alöis Alzheimer in the year 1901. For many decades after Alzheimer's original description, there was little progress in defining the pathogenesis of AD occurred. In the mid 1970's, it was found that the levels of acetylcholine decrease in brains of individuals undergoing neurodegeneration due to Alzheimer's disease. In early 1980's major advances in biochemistry and molecular genetics allowed the use of compositional analyses and immunocytochemistry to explain the structure of tangles and plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer patients. The term Alzheimer's disease was subsequently formally adopted in medical nomenclature to describe individuals of all ages with a characteristic common symptom pattern, disease course, and neuropathology.

Alzheimer's disease Microchapters

Home

Patient Information

Overview

Historical Perspective

Classification

Pathophysiology

Causes

Differentiating Alzheimer's disease from other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors

Natural History, Complications and Prognosis

Diagnosis

Diagnostic Criteria

History and Symptoms

Physical Examination

Laboratory Findings

Electrocardiogram

X-ray

Ultrasound

CT scan

MRI

Other Imaging Findings

Other Diagnostic Studies

Treatment

Medical Therapy

Surgery

Primary Prevention

Secondary Prevention

Future or Investigational Therapies

Social Impact

Family Impact

Alzheimer's disease historical perspective On the Web

Most recent articles

Most cited articles

Review articles

CME Programs

Powerpoint slides

Images

American Roentgen Ray Society Images of Alzheimer's disease historical perspective

All Images
X-rays
Echo & Ultrasound
CT Images
MRI

Ongoing Trials at Clinical Trials.gov

US National Guidelines Clearinghouse

NICE Guidance

FDA on Alzheimer's disease historical perspective

CDC on Alzheimer's disease historical perspective

Alzheimer's disease historical perspective in the news

Blogs on Alzheimer's disease historical perspective

Directions to Hospitals Treating Alzheimer's disease

Risk calculators and risk factors for Alzheimer's disease historical perspective

Historical Perspective

  • In 1901 when Alöis Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist, identified the first case of what became known as Alzheimer's disease in a fifty-year-old woman whom he referred to as Auguste D.
  • Alöis Alzheimer followed her until she died in 1906, at which point he reported the case publicly for the first time[1]
  • In the following five years, eleven similar cases were reported in the medical literature, some of them already using the term Alzheimer's disease.[2]
  • In 1910, Emil Kraepelin recognized Alzheimer's dementia as a separate entity in the eighth edition of his 'Textbook of Psychiatry', which was later published[3]
  • In the 1960's, Alzheimer's disease became one of the most common causes of senile dementia
  • For many decades after Alzheimer's original description, there was little progress in defining the pathogenesis of AD occurred. The diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease was reserved for individuals between the ages of 45 and 65 who developed symptoms of dementia
  • In late 1960s, with the advent of electron microscopy, Michael Kidd in England and Robert Terry in the United States deciphered the microscopic changes underlying senile (neuritic) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles
  • In the mid 1970's, it was found that the levels of acetylcholine decrease in brains of individuals undergoing neurodegeneration due to Alzheimer's disease. As a result, pharmacological therapy became more focused on increasing the levels of acetylcholine across the synaptic clefts of Alzheimer patients
  • In the late 1970's and early 1980s, it was identified that the levels of neurotransmitters other than acetylcholine were also changed in affected patients
  • In early 1980's major advances in biochemistry and molecular genetics allowed the use of compositional analyses and immunocytochemistry to explain the structure of tangles and plaques. This eventually led to the use of Alzheimer's disease independently of the age of onset of the disease[4][5]
  • The term Alzheimer's disease was subsequently formally adopted in medical nomenclature to describe individuals of all ages with a characteristic common symptom pattern, disease course, and neuropathology[6]

References

  1. Auguste D.:
    • Alzheimer Alöis (1907). "Uber eine eigenartige Erkrankung der Hirnrinde" (in (German)). 64 (1–2): 146–148.
    • Alöis Alzheimer. "About a peculiar disease of the cerebral cortex. (Translated by L. Jarvik and H. Greenson)". Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders. 1 (1): 3–8. PMID 3331112.
    • Maurer Ulrike, Maurer Konrad (2003). Alzheimer: the life of a physician and the career of a disease. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 270. ISBN 0-231-11896-1.
    • Hochberg Fred H., Rottenberg David (1977). Neurological classics in modern translation. New York: Hafner Press. ISBN 0-02-851180-8.
  2. Berchtold NC, Cotman CW (1998). "Evolution in the conceptualization of dementia and Alzheimer's disease: Greco-Roman period to the 1960s". Neurobiology of Aging. 19 (3): 173–189. doi:10.1016/S0197-4580(98)00052-9. PMID 9661992.
  3. Kraepelin Emil, Diefendorf A. Ross (translated by) (2007-01-17). Clinical Psychiatry: A Textbook For Students And Physicians (Reprint). Kessinger Publishing. p. 568. ISBN 1-4325-0833-4.
  4. Boller F, Forbes MM (1998). "History of dementia and dementia in history: an overview". Journal of Neurological Science. 158 (2): 125–133. doi:10.1016/S0022-510X(98)00128-2. PMID 9702682.
  5. Katzman Robert, Terry Robert D, Bick Katherine L (editors) (1978). Alzheimer's disease: senile dementia and related disorders. New York: Raven Press. p. 595. ISBN 0-89004-225-X.
  6. Amaducci LA, Rocca WA, Schoenberg BS (1986). "Origin of the distinction between Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia: how history can clarify nosology". Neurology. 36 (11): 1497–1499. PMID 3531918.

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