To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.
2017 Grants - Reddy
Gender Difference in Human and Primate Serotonin Network
P. Hemachandra Reddy, Ph.D.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
2017 Sex and Gender in Alzheimer’s (SAGA) Grant
How do sex-based differences in the brain network that regulates the chemical serotonin impact the risk for Alzheimer’s disease?
Women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s disease and emerging evidence suggests there may be unique biological and lifestyle factors that underlie these differences. Scientists are actively working to address gaps in our understanding of how biological sex and related genetic, lifestyle and societal factors may impact vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease. One such factor may be serotonin, which is an important neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) involved in brain networks responsible for mood (e.g. depression), metabolism and cognitive function. Recent evidence suggests that sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone may impact the function of the serotonin network. Women are at increased risk for both depression and Alzheimer’s but the underlying mechanisms are not yet understood. It is possible changes in the serotonin network may be one factor underlying sex-based differences in disease risk.
In previous studies, P. Hemachandra Reddy, Ph.D., and colleagues found that hormone treatment was neuroprotective in non-human primates and that these effects appear to be mediated by an increase in brain serotonin levels. For their current work, Dr. Reddy and team have proposed detailed studies of a key region of the brain, called the dorsal raphe nucleus, which is part of the serotonin network. The nerve cells in the dorsal raphe nucleus have long extensions that send signals via serotonin to many parts of the brain. The researchers will measure the activity of certain genes in nerve cells of the dorsal raphe nucleus using brain tissue collected from both non-human primates and humans. The goal of this work is to better understand how male and females differ with regard to the serotonin network and how these differences may relate to the risk for developing depression or Alzheimer’s disease during aging.
This research will help scientists better understand how sex differences in the brain’s serotonin network may impact the risk of developing depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Ultimately this work could shed new light on how the serotonin system may be regulated as a treatment to slow or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.