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2013 Grants - Bettcher
Pro-Inflammatory Genetic Polymorphisms and Cognition in Amnestic MCI
Brianne Magouirk Bettcher, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, California
2013 New Investigator Research Grant
Inflammation represents a response of the immune system to an infection, foreign object or injury. In some situations, however, inflammation itself can cause damage to living tissues. People with Alzheimer's disease have high levels of inflammation in the brain, and there is some evidence that inflammation may contribute to the onset and progression of disease.
The characteristics of an inflammatory response differ between people. Such differences may be caused by several factors, including slightly different genetic characteristics (genetic polymorphisms).
Brianne Magouirk Bettcher, Ph.D. and colleagues have proposed to study how certain known genetic characteristics affect brain function in people at high risk for Alzheimer's disease. They plan to focus on a small number of genes known to affect the inflammatory response. The researchers will study how variations in those genes across different people affect (1) markers of inflammation in the blood, and (2) declines in brain function. Participants in the study will include people who are thought to be at increased risk, including individuals who have mild cognitive impairment (MCI), especially a type known as amnestic MCI because it is associated with impaired memory. Amnestic MCI is commonly a precursor to Alzheimer's disease. These studies will address important questions about the role of inflammation in the early onset and progression of brain impairment associated with Alzheimer's disease.