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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a progressive loss of memory and cognitive skills. Although much attention has been devoted concerning the contribution of the microscopic lesions, senile plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles to the disease process, inflammation has long been suspected to play a major role in the etiology of AD. Recently, a novel variant in the gene encoding the triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) has been identified that has refocused the spotlight back onto inflammation as a major contributing factor in AD. Variants in TREM2 triple one's risk of developing late-onset AD. TREM2 is expressed on microglial cells, the resident macrophages in the CNS, and functions to stimulate phagocytosis on one hand and to suppress cytokine production and inflammation on the other hand. The purpose of this paper is to discuss these recent developments including the potential role that TREM2 normally plays and how loss of function may contribute to AD pathogenesis by enhancing oxidative stress and inflammation within the CNS. In this context, an overview of the pathways linking beta-amyloid, neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), oxidative stress, and inflammation will be discussed.

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This document was originally published by Hindawi Publishing Corporation in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at: DOI: 10.1155/2013/860959