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2007 Grant - Van Berckel
Assessment of Blood-Brain Barrier Integrity in Alzheimer's Disease
Bart van Berckel, M.D.
VU University Medical Centre
2007 New Investigator Research Grant
Beta-amyloid is a protein fragment that accumulates in the brain of people with Alzheimer's disease, where it forms the amyloid plaques that are characteristic features of the disease. However, beta-amyloid can be removed from the brain by a system that transports the protein fragment across the blood-brain barrier. This system depends on the activity of a protein called P-glycoprotein. Some evidence suggests that low activity of P-glycoprotein is related to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Bart van Berckel, M.D., and colleagues plan to study the activity of P-glycoprotein and the accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain of living persons. They will use positron-emission tomography (PET), a technique that relies on the use of specific tracer dyes to perform functional imaging studies. The investigators will use tracer dyes that are specific for P-glycoprotein and beta-amyloid to examine the levels of these molecules in the brains of persons with Alzheimer's disease and in healthy persons.
Because the brain imaging procedure is noninvasive, the researchers will be able to repeat the procedure after two years to determine what changes have occurred and how those changes relate to P-glycoprotein activity. These studies will help to define the role of P-glycoprotein in clearing the brain of beta-amyloid. They may also help in the future development of therapies for Alzheimer's that improve the clearance of beta-amyloid from the brain.