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Probing neural circuit mechanisms in Alzheimer's disease using novel technologies.

Molecular Psychiatry 2023 March 24
The study of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) has traditionally focused on neuropathological mechanisms that has guided therapies that attenuate neuropathological features. A new direction is emerging in AD research that focuses on the progressive loss of cognitive function due to disrupted neural circuit mechanisms. Evidence from humans and animal models of AD show that dysregulated circuits initiate a cascade of pathological events that culminate in functional loss of learning, memory, and other aspects of cognition. Recent progress in single-cell, spatial, and circuit omics informs this circuit-focused approach by determining the identities, locations, and circuitry of the specific cells affected by AD. Recently developed neuroscience tools allow for precise access to cell type-specific circuitry so that their functional roles in AD-related cognitive deficits and disease progression can be tested. An integrated systems-level understanding of AD-associated neural circuit mechanisms requires new multimodal and multi-scale interrogations that longitudinally measure and/or manipulate the ensemble properties of specific molecularly-defined neuron populations first susceptible to AD. These newly developed technological and conceptual advances present new opportunities for studying and treating circuits vulnerable in AD and represent the beginning of a new era for circuit-based AD research.

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