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2013 Grants - McDonald
Statistically Determined MCI Subtypes: Genetics, Biomarkers and Outcomes
Carrie R. McDonald, Ph.D.
SUniversity of California, San Diego
La Jolla, California
2013 New Investigator Research Grant
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition in which people experience mild declines in memory and other forms of cognition and may lead to Alzheimer's disease. MCI has long been considered a preliminary stage of Alzheimer's. Yet MCI remains a broadly defined condition. Some people with MCI, for example, do not go on to develop dementia. As the global population continues to age and dementia becomes more prevalent, there is an increasing need to develop a more precise definition of MCI and a better understanding of the risk of converting from MCI to dementia.
In earlier studies, Carrie R. McDonald, Ph.D., and colleagues have developed a series of preliminary MCI subtypes. They will use their current grant to characterize these subtypes in a comprehensive manner. Each subtype will be defined by a broad variety of dementia-related changes—including changes in brain structure and blood vessel health. For this effort, the researchers will analyze data from a group of 600 middle aged and older participants. They will assess brain scans, genetic testing results, blood vessel analysis and other biological measurements. For each MCI subtype, the investigators hope to establish a specific risk level for developing dementia over a four to five year period.
The work of this study could help clarify how early forms of cognitive impairment manifest themselves. It could also provide a novel tool for better diagnosing Alzheimer's disease risk and preventing or slowing dementia onset.