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Published on: March 7, 2015
by Michel D’Andrea for SciTech Connect:
Alzheimer’s is primarily a disease of the brain, although there is a correlation between retinal pathology and Alzheimer’s, as patients often exhibit poor vision and other visual signs of impairment.
Diabetes, while an entirely different disease on the surface, is better known for its effect on the eye as well. Detailed comprehensive eye examinations are essential for all diabetic patients and, if left unchecked, diabetic retinopathy could lead to blindness.
Interestingly, the brain and the eye have similar anatomical vascular barrier structures referred to respectively as the blood-brain and blood-retina barriers. Of note is that vascular pathological factors, such as hypertension, stroke, and high cholesterol, are common in both Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
As described in Chapter 14 of the newly released book, Bursting Neurons and Fading Memories: An Alternative Hypothesis for the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Diseases, a dysfunctional vascular barrier can lose its ability to keep restricted vascular components from entering the brain and eye.
For example, compromised blood-retina function through endothelial cell damage is observed before clinical evidence of retinopathy in diabetic patients. Similarly, vascular pathologies in the brain precede the presence of plaques and cognitive impairments in AD mouse transgenic models. Therefore, dysfunctional blood-barrier function could be one of the earliest structural pathological events in these diseases.
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