BACKGROUND: Adults with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer's disease neuropathology in an age-dependent manner. This unique feature provides an opportunity to test interventions targeted for prevention of Alzheimer's disease neuropathology and dementia in Down syndrome.

DISCUSSION: In considering clinical trial designs, however, there are several challenges that we believe will be critical to examine further. These include: accuracy in dementia, mild cognitive impairment and preclinical Alzheimer's disease diagnoses in Down syndrome; clinical trial outcome measures appropriate for individuals with Down syndrome; in vivo imaging outcome measures (and practical considerations); and contributions of medical co-morbidities to disease progression. Also, when studies are designed, the molecular target may appear to be obvious (for example, targeting beta-amyloid pathology), but chromosome 21 has over 200 additional genes that could influence both positive and negative clinical trial outcomes.

SUMMARY: Observational longitudinal studies of aging in Down syndrome will be critically important as there is a need to establish sensitive clinical outcome measures and understand the consequences of gene overexpression in relation to specific interventions.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, v. 6, article 61, p. 1-3.

© Head and Schmitt; licensee BioMed Central 2014

The licensee has exclusive rights to distribute this article, in any medium, for 12 months following its publication. After this time, the article is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

EH and FAS are supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development of the National Institutes of Health (award R01HD064993).

Related Content

This article is paired with another article which takes the opposite argument. That other article is:

"Pro: Are We Ready to Translate Alzheimer's Disease Modifying Therapies to People with Down Syndrome?", published in Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, v. 6, article 60, p. 1-4. It is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13195-014-0060-7