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2016 Grants - Satizabal
Impact of Obesity in Brain Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease
Claudia L. Satizabal, Ph.D.
Boston University Medical Campus
2016 Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)
How does mid-life obesity contribute to a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life?
Obesity is a well-characterized, modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but its contribution to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s is not as clear. Obesity can affect a person’s metabolism or circulation in harmful ways which may contribute to Alzheimer’s progression. Previous studies suggest that obese people are more likely to experience cognitive decline later in life than people of a healthy weight. As the global population continues to age while the obesity epidemic grows, there is a strong need to understand the relationship between obesity and Alzheimer’s disease.
Claudia L. Satizabal, Ph.D. and colleagues are working to understand how various measures of mid-life obesity (body mass index, distribution of body fat, metabolic blood markers, etc.) relate to a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life. Using participants in the Framingham Heart Study, the researchers will examine how brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease may relate to indicators of obesity, including blood levels of molecules called adipokines that are secreted by fat tissue. They will also compare genetic variables associated with Alzheimer’s disease between obese people and people of a healthy weight. Dr. Satizabal’s study will use the extensive dataset available in the Framingham Heart Study to investigate the hypothesis that mid-life obesity may increase a person’s risk of cognitive decline later in life.
These studies could shed new light on the previously understudied consequences of mid-life obesity on brain function during aging. The results of this work could also inform the design of new public health approaches that could combat obesity and ultimately lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.