The clinical definition of neurodegenerative diseases is based on symptoms that reflect terminal damage of specific brain regions. This is misleading as it tells little about the initial disease processes. Circuitry failures that underlie the clinical symptomatology are themselves preceded by clinically mostly silent, slowly progressing multicellular processes that trigger or are triggered by the accumulation of abnormally folded proteins such as Aβ, Tau, TDP-43, and α-synuclein, among others. Methodological advances in single-cell omics, combined with complex genetics and novel ways to model complex cellular interactions using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, make it possible to analyze the early cellular phase of neurodegenerative disorders. This will revolutionize the way we study those diseases and will translate into novel diagnostics and cell-specific therapeutic targets, stopping these disorders in their early track before they cause difficult-to-reverse damage to the brain.
Neuron, Volume 111, 15 March 2023,