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Research Grants 2014

To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.

2014 Grants - Au

Framingham Cognitive Aging Study: Impact of Vascular Metabolic Risk Factors

Rhoda Au, Ph.D.
Boston University
Boston, Massachusetts

2014 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant: Role of Vascular Metabolic Risk Factors in the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia

A growing number of studies indicate that Alzheimer’s disease begins long before clinical symptoms appear. Thus it is vital to identify biological risk factors that contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. Identification and management of these modifiable risk factors could help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. According to many researchers, certain vascular (blood vessel) disorders acquired during mid-life may increase one’s risk for dementia. Some of these disorders, including high blood pressure and high glucose (blood sugar) levels, are modifiable through medication and lifestyle changes.

Rhoda Au, Ph.D., and colleagues hypothesize that a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases the earlier they develop certain vascular disorders. They point to research indicating how blood vessel damage in the body leads to reduced blood flow in the brain and can contribute to brain cell damage and death.

For their current study, the researchers will test their hypothesis using existing data collected from participants in the long-term Framingham Heart Study. This large database includes measures of cardiovascular risk factors, and cognitive function collected over several decades. Dr. Au and colleagues will determine how vascular problems in mid-life may promote declines in cognition and alterations in brain structure. They will also assess whether the presence of APOE-ɛ4, a gene linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s, impacts the development of dementia-related brain changes in individuals with mid-life vascular risk factors. This work could shed new light on how vascular risk factors contribute to the brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It could also point to novel, non-invasive therapies for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Alzheimer's Association International Conference | July 16-20, 2017, London, England

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