on Alzheimer Disease

Research uses animal models of Alzheimer disease, principally based on transgenic mouse lines (bearing mutated human genes related to the accumulation of Aβ peptide). Transgenic mice have greatly improved our understanding of the disease and have suggested new pathogenic hypotheses. However, animal models do not make the study of the human brain obsolete.

Why is research on post mortem human brain still useful ?

1. Because the lesions observed in the brain of Alzheimer disease patients are still imperfectly known. Aβ peptide and tau protein are the main constituents of the lesions, but other molecules, maybe crucial for the development of the disease, have also been found in the lesions; many of those remain to be discovered. 

2. Because all the models are incomplete: it is impossible, to-day, to reconstitute the stages of Alzheimer disease in a test tube. The analysis of human tissues remain essential and has to be confronted with the data obtained from experimental models. 

3. Alzheimer disease could be a common name attributed to diverse disorders, requiring different treatments. It will be necessary in the future to determine if and how new treatments modify the lesions and their progression in the brain. The collection of well-studied samples will then be very useful to improve therapeutics.