$30 million NIA consortium explores links between vascular health and Alzheimer’s disease




In addition, the team will carry out molecular profiling of plasma samples collected in the same participants to identify metabolic and protein signatures that may predict clinical, pathologic, and physiologic outcomes related to Alzheimer’s and cerebrovascular disease.

In a companion study using mouse models with diabetes and Alzheimer’s pathology traits, the researchers will examine how the interaction between diabetes and Alzheimer’s pathology affects the structure and function of neural circuits important to learning and memory.

“This project is addressing two critical knowledge gaps,” Dr. Petanceska said. “The first is understanding the mechanisms by which dysregulated glucose metabolism impacts the onset and progression of pathologic changes in the course of the preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s disease; the second is understanding the molecular determinants of AD risk in Hispanics, a population with higher prevalence of diabetes and at greater risk for AD.”

The Role of Renin-Angiotensin-Endothelial Pathway in Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers at Emory University, Atlanta, will focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which vascular dysfunction associated with high blood pressure affects the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s.

The research cohort comprises 160 subjects from the Emory Cardiovascular Biobank and Predictive Health Study– 80 with normal cognition and 80 with mild cognitive impairment – who will be followed for 2 years. Molecular data (genomic, epigenetic and metabolomic) combined with clinical data on the same subjects collected over 2 years, will be used to build a molecular network model of the interaction between vascular dysfunction and various Alzheimer’s disease traits.

Parallel studies in a rat model that uniquely exhibits human-like AD neuropathology will help uncover the temporal relationship between vascular dysfunction and AD and examine the potential of the molecular regulators of vascular function, such as the renin-angiotensin system, as therapeutic targets for AD. The goal is to characterize this pathway as a therapeutic target.

Metabolic Signatures Underlying Vascular Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s-Type Dementias

Teams at Duke University, Durham, N.C., and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, will carry out extensive profiling of plasma samples from 900 ADNI participants and from participants in the Duke University MURDOCK Memory and Cognitive Health Study in search for lipid metabolites that are associated with cardiovascular disease and cognitive change. These lipidomic profiles will be integrated with the vast array of clinical and other molecular data available for these participants to identify molecular signatures that may be used to differentiate among various risk-factor types of AD.

In addition, in a subset of subjects, the team will compare the lipidomic profiles between plasma and cerebrospinal fluid; this will enable the team to test hypotheses about the role of systemic vascular and metabolic factors on cognitive aging and AD.

Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy and Mechanisms of Brain Amyloid Accumulation

Investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, will investigate the molecular underpinnings of CAA and its impact on Alzheimer’s disease. Employing a mouse model and human subjects with CAA, the study will explore this cycle of progressive amyloid deposition and brain injury. The team’s approach combines noninvasive detection and analysis of human CAA, real-time measurement of vascular structure and physiology in living transgenic mouse models, and molecular analysis of gene expression in brain microvessels. Ultimately, the team hopes to identify candidate therapies with which could block it.

“This highly multidisciplinary investigation into how the vascular effects of amyloid at the molecular, single-blood vessel, and whole-brain levels influence the clinical disease promises to deliver new, well-characterized therapeutic targets for disease prevention,” Dr. Petanceska said.

She predicted that the wide-ranging projects of the M²OVE–AD consortium will bring invaluable understanding to an enormously important, but still unexplored, aspect of Alzheimer’s pathology.

“We hope that this large-scale team science effort will generate an in-depth understanding of how vascular and metabolic factors contribute to neurodegenerative changes that result in cognitive decline and dementia and that the data and knowledge generated by this program will be the basis for developing effective interventions for disease treatment and prevention.”

On Twitter @Alz_Gal


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