To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.
2017 Grants - Nation
Protective Vascular Factors in Mild Cognitive Impairment
Daniel Nation, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
2017 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant (AARG)
Do circulating stem cells in the blood reduce cognitive decline in older people?
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition in which brain function is reduced, but not enough to impact daily function. Some, but not all, people who have MCI eventually develop Alzheimer's disease. Thus, in some people MCI may represent an early stage of Alzheimer's disease during which treatments have a better chance of being effective.
Numerous studies have identified risk factors for MCI and Alzheimer's disease, but fewer studies have identified factors that protect against these conditions. Recently, however, scientists have found evidence that a group of cells found in the bloodstream are associated with lower risk of Alzheimer's disease. These cells are known as circulating progenitor cells (CPCs; also called stem cells). CPCs have the ability to enter other organs and adopt the characteristics of that organ's cells. For example, CPCs can enter the walls of blood vessels and replace damaged cells. The finding that high levels of CPCs is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease suggests the possibility that these cells may play important roles in the brain.
Daniel Nation, Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed an extensive study of how levels of CPCs in the blood are related to changes in brain function over time in people with MCI. The researchers will study a large group of older people who are already participating in related studies of brain function. Those other studies are already collecting brain images, data from tests of brain function, and data about biomarkers related to Alzheimer's disease.
For the current grant proposal, Dr. Nation and colleagues plan to measure levels of CPCs in blood samples from the same study participants. The researchers will then explore how CPC levels are related to changes in Alzheimer's biomarkers, brain imaging, and brain function over time.
This study will provide more extensive information about the link between CPCs and the risk of MCI and Alzheimer's disease in older people. It will help scientists determine if increasing CPC levels is a possible strategy for slowing or halting the progression of cognitive decline in MCI and Alzheimer's disease.