Angiogenesis directs development of the brain's microcirculation during antenatal and postnatal development, but its role later in life is less well recognized. I contend that during senescence a reduced cerebral capillary density accounts in part for the vascular cognitive impairment observed in many older persons and possibly for some forms of Alzheimer's disease. I propose that neuroangiogenesis is essential throughout adult life for maintaining the microcirculation of the cerebral cortex and elsewhere in the brain and that it commonly declines with old age. To support this hypothesis I have examined the neurological literature for relevant studies on cerebral capillary density and neuroangiogenesis throughout the three stages of life and in persons with senile dementias. Finally, I discuss therapeutic approaches employing angiogenic factors for treating vascular cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.

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Published in Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, v. 32, no. 3, p. 773-788.

© 2012 – IOS Press and the author

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The document available for download is the author's post-peer-review final draft of the article. The final publication is available at IOS Press through https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-2012-120067.

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