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2017 Grants - Barnes
Brain Blood Flow in Middle-Aged Adults at Low and High Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Jill Barnes, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
2017 Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant (AARG)
How does brain blood flow in middle-age relate to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease?
Adequate blood flow to the brain is essential to delivering oxygen and nutrients to the brain to maintain optimal function. Studies have shown that aging reduces blood flow to the brain and may increase the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. It is not yet known how alterations in brain blood flow in middle-age may relate to brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding these changes in mid-life is important because this is a critical time period in which lifestyle or pharmacological intervention could modify the risk for cognitive decline later in life.
Jill Barnes, Ph.D., and colleagues have planned a study with 90 individuals who are already participating in research at the University of Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Half of these individuals are considered at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease and half are considered low risk based upon changes in biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers will measure the function of the participants’ brain blood vessels and determine how this relates to brain structure and function. The researchers hypothesize the middle-aged adults at high-risk for Alzheimer’s disease will have less blood flow to the brain and impaired ability to adequately regulate blood flow to the brain.
The results of this study could shed new light on how changes in brain blood flow in mid-life may contribute to the subsequent development of Alzheimer’s disease. These findings could also inform future clinical trials to test treatments that improve blood flow as a novel way to help slow or prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.