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What can we learn from study of Alzheimer's disease in patients with Down syndrome for early-onset Alzheimer's disease in the general population?

DOI: 10.1186/alzrt72

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Human thinking depends, ultimately, on the integrity of brain cell to brain cell communication. Any process that impairs this communication - whether it is congenital or acquired, static or degenerative, anatomic or metabolic - has devastating consequences for the health and well-being of that person. People with intellectual disabilities endure socioeconomic and health disparities as a consequence of their cognitive impairment [1]. Similarly, people with acquired cognitive impairments suffer losses in work and social status with economic and familial hardships. While the biopsychosocial barriers facing people with acquired and congenital cognitive impairments must be addressed by society, knowledge of how to prevent or cure cognitive impairment also plays a role in society's responsibility for their care.Alzheimer's dementia is a neurodegenerative disease of the brain causing progressive cognitive impairment affecting three distinct population groups: most adults with Down syndrome aged >50 years; an early-onset group comprising people aged <60 years with specific genetic predispositions; and the largest, so-called late-onset group, a majority of the very older people. The onset of Alzheimer's dementia has profound implications for health, social and economic well-being of all the people in whom this disease develops. This applies equally for people with pre-existing intellectual disability as well as those starting with normal cognition [2,3]. Knowledge of the cause or causes of Alzheimer's disease contributes to understanding the processes of usual cognition and the cognitive changes, and potentially points research in the direction of disease prevention or cure.In fundamental but as yet incomplete ways, studies of the cognitive skills, brains and genetics of people with Down syndrome have contributed to understanding processes not only of both normal and abnormal thinking, but also of cognitive changes and neuropathology in Alzheimer's disease development in the


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