Going round in circles – the Papez Circuit in Alzheimer’s Disease

Gonzalo Forno, Albert Lladó, Michael Hornberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
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The hippocampus is regarded as the pivotal structure for episodic memory symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathophysiology. However, what is often overlooked is that the hippocampus is ‘only’ one part of a network of memory critical regions, the Papez circuit. Other Papez circuit regions are often regarded as less relevant for AD as they are thought to sit ‘downstream’ of the hippocampus. However, this notion is oversimplistic, and increasing evidence suggests that other Papez regions might be affected before or concurrently with the hippocampus. In addition, AD research has mostly focused on episodic memory deficits, whereas spatial navigation processes are also subserved by the Papez circuit with increasing evidence supporting its valuable potential as a diagnostic measure of incipient AD pathophysiology. In the current review, we take a step forward analysing recent evidence on the structural and functional integrity of the Papez circuit across AD disease stages. Specifically, we will review the integrity of specific Papez regions from at-genetic-risk (APOE4 carriers), to mild cognitive impairment (MCI), to dementia stage of sporadic AD and autosomal dominant AD (ADAD). We related those changes to episodic memory and spatial navigation/orientation deficits in AD. Finally, we provide an overview of how the Papez circuit is affected in AD diseases and their specific symptomology contributions. This overview strengthened the need for moving away from a hippocampal-centric view to a network approach on how the whole Papez circuit is affected in AD and contributes to its symptomology, informing future research and clinical approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7668-7687
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
Early online date16 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • anterior thalamic nucleus
  • episodic memory
  • hippocampus
  • posterior cingulate cortex
  • spatial navigation

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