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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Alzheimer disease and platelets: how’s that relevant

Silvia Catricala1, Mauro Torti2 and Giovanni Ricevuti3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Medicine, Haematology Section, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia, Italy

2 Department of Biochemistry, University of Pavia, Via Bassi 21, Pavia, Italy

3 Department of Internal Medicine and Therapeutics, Section of Geriatrics, University of Pavia, ASP-IDR S.Margherita, Via Emilia 12, Pavia, 27100, Italy

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Immunity & Ageing 2012, 9:20  doi:10.1186/1742-4933-9-20

Published: 17 September 2012

Abstract

Alzheimer Disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder worldwide, and account for 60% to 70% of all cases of progressive cognitive impairment in elderly patients. At the microscopic level distinctive features of AD are neurons and synapses degeneration, together with extensive amounts of senile plaques and neurofibrillars tangles. The degenerative process probably starts 20–30 years before the clinical onset of the disease. Senile plaques are composed of a central core of amyloid β peptide, Aβ, derived from the metabolism of the larger amyloid precursor protein, APP, which is expressed not only in the brain, but even in non neuronal tissues. More than 30 years ago, some studies reported that human platelets express APP and all the enzymatic activities necessary to process this protein through the same pathways described in the brain. Since then a large number of evidence has been accumulated to suggest that platelets may be a good peripheral model to study the metabolism of APP, and the pathophysiology of the onset of AD. In this review, we will summarize the current knowledge on the involvement of platelets in Alzheimer Disease. Although platelets are generally accepted as a suitable model for AD, the current scientific interest on this model is very high, because many concepts still remain debated and controversial. At the same time, however, these still unsolved divergences mirror a difficulty to establish constant parameters to better defined the role of platelets in AD.

Keywords:
Alzheimer disease; Platelets; Amyloid precursor protein.