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2016 Grants - Gomar
Neuroinflammatory Mechanisms in Alzheimer’s Disease: Gliosis, myo-Inositol and Amyloidosis
Jesus J. Gomar, Ph.D.
Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Manhasset, New York
2016 Alzheimer’s Association Clinical Fellowship to Promote Diversity (AACF-D)
Can novel brain imaging methods shed new light on the relationship between beta-amyloid and brain inflammation?
Characteristic features of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain include buildup of the protein fragment beta-amyloid into amyloid plaques and excessive inflammation. There is increasing evidence that these processes are related, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Immune cells known as microglia largely mediate brain inflammation. During Alzheimer’s disease high levels of beta-amyloid may trigger microglia “overactivation” leading to excessive inflammation. Microglia can also help clear beta-amyloid from the brain, but when they become overactivated this function may be impaired. More research is needed to better understand this complex relationship.
Jesus J. Gomar, Ph.D., and colleagues will use brain-imaging techniques to explore the relationship between amyloid plaques and brain inflammation in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers will measure beta-amyloid accumulation and microglia activation using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. This imaging technique uses special tracers that can highlight amyloid plaques and activated microglia (“gliosis”) to see if there is overlap in where these changes occur in the living brain.
The researchers will also use magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) imaging to measure a brain molecule known as myo-inositol, which is thought to be increased in the brain during inflammation. The researchers will test if myo-inositol levels are increased in the same parts of the brain that experience gliosis and accumulation of beta-amyloid to assess its role in the disease process.
This research will help advance our understanding of how amyloid plaques may relate to brain inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease. These findings could also advance the development of new brain imaging methods that visualize inflammation in the brain during Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.