Researchers at CHeBA are investigating the role of apolipoproteins in normal and pathological brain ageing, such as Alzheimer’s disease, with the assistance of a philanthropic research grant from the Sachdev Foundation.
The Sachdev Foundation last year awarded $40,000 for the grant, “Normal brain ageing, Alzheimer’s disease and the role of apolipoproteins.”
Dr Julia Müenchhoff, a CHeBA post-doctoral research fellow working on the grant, explained that differences in blood proteins between healthy people and people with Alzheimer’s disease can help develop early detection and diagnostic procedures, as well as inform potential treatment strategies.
“A good understanding of the changes to proteins in the blood from AD patients is not only essential for insights into disease development and progression, but also for the development of biomarkers. A simple blood test to identify persons at risk of developing AD would allow for early therapeutic intervention prior to extensive damage to the brain,” said Dr Müenchhoff.
Apolipoproteins are a large family of proteins which have been associated with longevity, ageing phenotypes and a broad range of age-related disorders. Importantly, they have been associated with both successful and harmful ageing through their roles in vascular and immune function, particularly since they are the main carrier proteins for blood lipids includingcholesterol. Apolipoprotein profiling using samples from CHeBA’s Sydney Centenarian Study has already provided a number of findings about the association of these proteins with cognition in very old age.
One component of the research involves studying the apolipoprotein profiles of individuals with Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer’s disease (AD-AD), a rare hereditary form of Alzheimer’s disease in which individuals carrying the mutation willdevelop the disease with near certainty.
“Studying the apolipoprotein profiles of AD-AD patients is extremely useful for understanding the very early form of the disease,” said Dr Müenchhoff. “We know that Alzheimer’s disease processes develop over a long period of time, often decades, but we don’t always know which individuals will go on to develop Alzheimer’s, so it has been hard to isolate relevant factors occurring before clinical symptoms appear.”
“In people with AD-AD, we know that they will develop the disease and the pathological processes occur at a much younger age than in individuals with the more common form of Alzheimer’s, sporadic AD. This means that there are fewer age-related changes and comorbidities to consider, so we can be more certain about which changes are linked to the disease.”
Findings from the research have already been presented at two symposiums in Sydney. Currently a number of manuscripts are in preparation for publication.
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