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2005 Grant - Wyss-Coray
Role of Systemic Neurotrophin Deficiency in Alzheimer Pathogenesis
Tony Wyss-Coray, Ph.D.
2005 Zenith Fellows Award
Neurotrophins are molecules that are critical for the maintenance, survival and function of neurons. Many of these neurotrophins are also present in the blood, can be produced by white blood cells (important players in the body's immune system), and may mediate communication between white blood cells.
Tony Wyss-Coray, Ph.D., and colleagues have conducted studies to determine if there are any differences in blood levels of neurotrophins between people with Alzheimer's disease and those with no cognitive impairment. They have found a striking reduction of a neurotrophin called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, in people with Alzheimer's.
In this investigation, the researchers will analyze levels of BDNF and other neurotrophins and correlate these levels with degrees of memory deficits in people with Alzheimer's. In experiments with mice that develop an Alzheimer-like disease, they will conduct similar correlation analyses. They will also manipulate levels of BDNF and other neurotrophins in the blood of the mice and assess the subsequent impact on disease progression and memory impairment. In addition, they will investigate the effect of increasing levels of BDNF in the blood and its effect on the possible restoration of memories. These tests may demonstrate the relevance of neurotrophin levels in the blood in Alzheimer's disease and demonstrate the therapeutic potential of BDNF and related factors to treat memory deficits in Alzheimer's disease.