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2013 Grants - Cooper
Blood-Brain Barrier Disruptions as Mechanisms for Cognitive Impairment in Diabetes
Itzik Cooper, Ph.D., B.Sc., M.Sc.
Sheba Medical Center
Ramat Gan, Israel
2013 New Investigator Research Grant
The blood-brain barrier separates cells in the brain from circulating blood, and it controls what molecules enter and leave the brain. Diabetes has been implicated as a risk factor for Azheimer's. Evidence suggests the blood-brain barrier is damaged in both Alzheimer's disease and type-2 diabetes, indicating a possible link between the two disorders. But the exact nature and consequences of this damage are unclear.
Itzik Cooper, Ph.D., B.Sc., M.Sc., and colleagues hypothesize that blood-brain barrier damage is associated with changes in how the body processes insulin, similar to that observed in diabetes. This loss of insulin processing may prevent brain cells from functioning normally, contributing to the declines in cognition (brain function) seen in dementia.
For their current study, Dr. Cooper and colleagues will study normal mice and mice engineered to develop diabetes or Alzheimer's-like brain changes. They will use a sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to compare blood-brain barrier damage in the different animals. They will also compare insulin activity levels in their mice. The researchers then hope to determine how differences in blood-brain barrier damage and insulin activity affect the animals' memory and their levels of dementia-related brain proteins. Results of this work could identify important links between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, and they could point towards novel therapies designed to treat both disorders.