Individuals with Down Syndrome (DS), or trisomy 21, develop Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology by approximately 40 years of age. Chromosome 21 harbors several genes implicated in AD, including the amyloid precursor protein and one homologue of the β-site APP cleaving enzyme, BACE2. Processing of the amyloid precursor protein by β-secretase (BACE) is the rate-limiting step in the production of the pathogenic Aβ peptide. Increased amounts of APP in the DS brain result in increased amounts of Aβ and extracellular plaque formation beginning early in life. BACE dysregulation potentially represents an overlapping biological mechanism with sporadic AD and a common therapeutic target. As the lifespan for those with DS continues to increase, age-related concerns such as obesity, depression, and AD are of growing concern. The ability to prevent or delay the progression of neurodegenerative diseases will promote healthy aging and improve quality of life for those with DS.

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Published in Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research, v. 2012, article ID 362839, p. 1-8.

Copyright © 2012 Robin L. Webb and M. Paul Murphy. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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