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2012 Grants - Kamer
Infection/Inflammation and Cognitive Decline
Angela Kamer, Ph.D.
New York University
New York, New York
2012 New Investigator Research Grant
Brain inflammation has been linked to brain cell damage and cognitive decline in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Moreover, recent evidence suggests that inflammation in areas surrounding the brain may also affect Alzheimer's progression.
Angela Kamer, Ph.D., and colleagues will study the role of "peripheral" inflammation in dementia. For this effort, they will focus their experiments on a type of inflammation caused by periodontal disease, an infection of the gums and other tissues surrounding the teeth. Periodontal disease often involves both inflammation and high levels of harmful bacteria, and it affects about 50 percent of people over age 55. Because of its proximity to the brain, periodontal inflammation may be closely involved in Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Kamer and colleagues plan to enroll 80 elderly, cognitively-normal volunteers in their study, half of whom have periodontal disease and half of whom do not. These individuals will be recruited from the New York University College of Dentistry and Center for Brain Health. Each will undergo cognitive tests that assess changes in thinking, memory or reasoning, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the beginning of the project and at a 2-year follow-up exam. These tests will measure both cognitive changes and brain cell loss over time. By comparing test results from the two different groups, Dr. Kamer's team may identify how periodontal inflammation exacerbates cognitive and neurological pathologies linked with dementia. Such work could also identify biomarkers that underlie the association between peripheral inflammation and Alzheimer's development—markers that may provide effective targets for novel dementia therapies.