Brain Neurorehabil.  2011 Mar;4(1):21-29. 10.12786/bn.2011.4.1.21.

Animal Models of Dementia

  • 1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Konkuk University School of Medicine, Korea.


The discovery of new therapies for neurological disorders is especially predicated on the use of animal models both to identify new therapeutic targets and to carry out preclinical drug trials. Of primary concern to a neuroscience researcher is the selection of the most relevant animal model to achieve his or her research goals. Dementia is defined as the loss of mental processing ability, including communication, abstract thinking, judgment, and ultimately physical abilities. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of progressive decline of cognitive function in aged humans, and is characterized by the presence of numerous senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles accompanied by neuronal loss. Vascular cognitive impairment encompasses vascular dementia (VD) and is the second most common cause of dementing illness after AD. Some, but not all, of the neuropathological alterations and cognitive impairment in AD and VD can be reproduced genetically and pharmacologically in animals. We review the recent progress in the development of animal models of AD and VD. Experimental animal models of AD included cholinergic dysfunction-, Amyloid b-peptide-, neurofibrillary tangles-, and presenilin-related animal models. We focused on brief global ischaemic insults, chronic global hypoperfusion, and vasculopathies as experimental models of VD. Preclinical research based on animal models is pivotal to our knowledge of underlying molecular mechanisms and the drug discovery pipeline for dementia aiming at the development of therapeutic strategies alleviating or preventing this devastating disorder.


Alzheimer's disease; amyloid; hypoperfusion; dementia; vascular dementia

MeSH Terms

Alzheimer Disease
Dementia, Vascular
Drug Discovery
Models, Animal
Models, Theoretical
Nervous System Diseases
Neurofibrillary Tangles
Plaque, Amyloid


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