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2016 Grants - Brinkley
Diet, Exercise, and Soluble RAGE in Adults at Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease
Tina Brinkley, Ph.D.
Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
2016 New Investigator Research Grant to Promote Diversity
How may diet and exercise impact the levels of a potential Alzheimer’s disease biomarker found in blood and cerebrospinal fluid?
One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of beta-amyloid protein fragments (“plaques”) and abnormal tau (“tangles”) in the brain. Harmful protein accumulation may cause nerve cell death which can then lead to cognitive decline. A protein found on the surface of certain nerve cells called RAGE (receptor for advanced glycation endpoints) may help transport abnormal proteins and contribute to their toxic effects. People with Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes have higher levels of RAGE in their brains. This is one of many mechanisms linking Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
A soluble form of RAGE (sRAGE) is also found circulating in the blood and spinal fluid. sRAGE can counteract the negative effects of RAGE activation and seems to have a protective effect on nerve cells. People with Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of sRAGE circulating in their bodies, which may leave their nerve cells more vulnerable to damage by RAGE activation. Measuring the levels of sRAGE in a person’s blood or cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain) may be one way to assess their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Tina Brinkley, Ph.D. and colleagues are investigating if low levels of sRAGE could potentially serve as a biomarker for predicting or detecting individuals who may develop clinical signs of Alzheimer’s. The researchers will measure levels of sRAGE in blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples previously collected from older adults who participated in studies involving exercise or diet regimens. Samples were collected from both healthy adults and adults with risk factors for diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. The participants also received cognitive testing and brain imaging scans. Dr. Brinkley and her team will determine if levels of sRAGE relate to brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and if sRAGE levels can be altered by diet or exercise interventions.
These studies will help determine if sRAGE could serve as a potential biomarker for the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If successful, the results of this work may also identify ways a person can modulate levels of sRAGE through diet or exercise, ultimately impacting their risk for the development or progression of Alzheimer’s disease.