CHeBA Longitudinal Studies
Description The Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (MAS), is one of Australia’s largest and longest running studies of ageing and cognitive health. MAS began in 2005 with the aims of investigating rates and predictors of healthy cognitive ageing, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia in older Australians. Over the last 14 years, MAS has collected biomarker, genetic/epigenomic, neuroimaging, cognitive, proteomics/lipidomics, health, and lifestyle data to determine what factors are associated with cognitively normal ageing and progression to MCI or dementia. To request MAS data please contact the CHeBA Research Bank via email on CHeBAData@unsw.edu.au for a current application form. Read the latest blog post Participate in a CHeBA study Read the latest publication Design and Method At baseline, participants were 1037 older adults without dementia, aged 70–90, who were recruited from Eastern Sydney. Every two years… read more
Aims The age composition of Australia’s population is projected to change considerably over the coming decades with elderly Australians the fastest growing proportion of the population. This is particularly true of centenarians, the exceptional group of individuals who reach the age of 100. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in June 2015 there were 29,612 individuals in Australia aged 95-99 years old and 4,279 who were aged 100 or more. It is estimated that there will be 12,000 centenarians in Australia by 2020 and 50,000 by 2050. The number of centenarians worldwide is estimated to increase 15-fold to 2.2 million by 2050. Despite the rapid ageing of our population there have been only a few population-based studies of centenarians and near-centenarians internationally, and none in Australia. The study of exceptionally long lived individuals will shed light on the determinants of successful aging, both environmental and genetic… read more
Description The Older Australian Twins Study is a longitudinal study investigating healthy brain ageing in older twins (65+ years). Healthy ageing is characterised by low levels of disability, high cognitive and functional capacity, and an active engagement in life. The most important ingredient of healthy ageing is a healthy brain, bereft of age-related diseases and dysfunction. Brain ageing and brain diseases are determined by multiple genetic factors that interact with environmental influences. Since identical twins share 100% of their genetic code, whereas non-identical twins share half their genetic information, detailed comparisons of these two groups has the potential to discover new genes involved in cognitive decline or resilience. OATS commenced in New South Wales in January 2007, in Queensland in December 2007, and in Victoria in February 2008. Since the OATS study started we have followed our twin volunteers up every two years to… read more
Description Maintain Your Brain is a randomised controlled trial of multiple online interventions designed to target modifiable risk factors for dementia in general and AD in particular. Risk factors to be addressed are physical inactivity, cognitive inactivity, depression/anxiety, overweight and obesity, and poor dietary habits. Up to four intervention modules (physical activity, nutrition, brain training, and peace of mind) will be administered based on individual risk profiles. All activities and assessments will be conducted on a computer with internet access via the Maintain Your Brain eHealth platform. Maintain Your Brain invited over 8,000 individuals through the 45 and Up Study to participate in the trial. Participants were aged 55-77 years and did not have diagnosed dementia, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis. Maintain Your Brain will run for three years with annual assessments measuring risk factors and cognition. If you… read more
The MetMemory Study is a placebo-controlled study aiming to slow cognitive decline, using a safe medication used to treat diabetes and metabolic conditions. This research collaboration between CHeBA and the Garvan Institute, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, is recruiting volunteers for a 3-year study examining the effects of metformin on cognition, brain anatomy and early signs of dementia. By registering to participate in this study you may be able to help us achieve our objective: to slow loss of memory and other aspects of cognition with ageing, and examine whether metformin affects other aspects of metabolism, inflammation and the ageing process. Metformin is a safe medication used to treat diabetes, but also other metabolic/hormonal conditions. We’re looking for people who meet the following eligibility criteria: Live in the greater Sydney region; Are over 60 years of age; Are slightly overweight but do… read more
Description The cortical folding process begins very early, starting from 10 weeks of foetal life. Therefore, alterations in cortical development can provide us with important clues about the resulting morphology. Such morphological changes in the brain are associated with ageing, and this is possibly related to the thinning of the gyri, due to reduction in gyral grey matter and white matter. Sulcal widening is commonly used by radiologists as a measure of cortical atrophy in the clinical setting. Project Members Associate Professor Wei Wen, Associate Professor, CHeBA Dr Jiyang Jiang, Postdoctoral Fellow, CHeBA Associate Professor Tao Liu, PhD Associate Professor, School of Biological Science and Medical Engineering International Research Institute for Multidisciplinary Science, Beihang University
Description Blood is not only a repository for a variety of disease biomarkers, but its constituents can also reflect the status of the body as it ages, responds to lifestyle and environmental impacts such as nutrition, exercise and education, and reflects changes within the body such as response to disease. While current blood-based assays of specific markers such as Aβ peptides have been disappointing, there is a wealth of as yet untapped information in blood which holds promise to: Distinguish profiles of normal ageing from disease trajectories, Identify biochemical targets for lifestyle intervention, and Identify potential causative and/ or protective factors for disease onset. To date, we have used cutting edge proteomics technology to identify dysregulation of several plasma protein family groups in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). We have found that levels of apolipoprotein family members are correlated… read more
CogSCAN is the first independent, systematic evaluation of four prominent and widely used computerised cognitive assessment instruments in healthy older adults and in people with mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Australian society is increasingly multicultural, with 1 in 5 adults aged over 65 years from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Despite this, limited research has been conducted investigating the suitability, user-friendliness, and acceptability of computer-administered cognitive assessments for older culturally and linguistically diverse Australians. We are currently seeking volunteers to help evaluate computer-administered cognitive assessments, to see whether they offer a new, culturally-appropriate way to evaluate memory and thinking in older adults. We are interested in understanding how language and cultural factors such as years lived in Australia and age started learning English might influence cognitive… read more
Description The Personality & Total Health (PATH) Through Life project is a large, on-going, population-based, longitudinal cohort study comprising approximately 7500 participants ranging from early to late adulthood. The project aims to track and define the lifespan course of depression, anxiety, substance use and cognitive ability, identify environmental risk and protective factors within these domains, and examine the relationships between depression, anxiety and substance use with cognitive ability and dementia. The PATH Through Life project is a 20 year longitudinal cohort study of 7,485 young (aged 20–24 at baseline), midlife (aged 40–44 at baseline) and older (aged 60–64 at baseline) adults randomly sampled from the electoral roll of the Australian Capital Territory and the nearby city of Queanbeyan. Aims The original aims of the project are outlined below. To delineate the course of depression, anxiety, substance use and… read more
Description Proteomics is the large scale study of the protein expression profile of a living organism. Proteomes not only vary between cell types and tissues, but are dynamic in that they vary over time, with disease, and respond to environmental and lifestyle change. They are involved in a range of cellular processes, including ageing. We hope to better understand this role by studying protein expression, function and changes in normal ageing and age-related disorders, such as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Aims Identification of AD and MCI biomarkers in plasma which may change with conversion to disease, disease progression or are associated with brain volumetric changes or features such as white matter hyperintensities (WMH). Evaluate and validate specific plasma proteins, including Aβ peptides and apoliopoproteins as markers of early or preclinical dementia. Explore the relationship between plasma levels… read more
Description While the proportion of Australians drinking at risky levels has generally declined over the last two decades, risky drinking patterns have remained steady or increased among older adults. The most recent data from the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey indicate that nearly one in five Australians in their 60s drink at levels exceeding the official guidelines of more than two drinks per day, putting them at risk of long-term harm. One of the most significant risk factors associated with alcohol consumption in later life is the increased likelihood of cognitive decline and dementia. Online alcohol intervention programs offer a promising new avenue to provide support for older adults, who are increasingly accessing and regularly using the internet, to reduce their drinking. CHeBA researcher Dr Louise Mewton in conjunction with other CHeBA colleagues and researchers at the University of Sydney have developed a brief online… read more
Description Traditionally, the study of the relationship between brain structure, brain ageing and associated neuropsychiatric disorders involved examining circumscribed atrophy or other abnormalities of various grey or white matter regions of interest by using 3D T1- weighted structural MRI scans. However, there are limitations with this approach. One such limitation is that in normal ageing, and in brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) or schizophrenia, a large number of structures show atrophy or abnormality making the significance of any one structural change difficult to establish. Furthermore, this approach does not take into account the fact that the brain functions as a network of inter-connected regions, and it is the abnormality in the network that is more indicative of functional impairment. The emerging network approach, based on graph theory, has the significant advantage of providing rich, structural description,… read more
Description Prior investigations of human brain structural networks have primarily focused on healthy young adults and clinical samples. We study the scans of community-dwelling participants aged 70-90 years in order to examine normal age-related changes in the structural organisation of the elderly brain. Aims To examine age-related changes in structural topological organisation of the elderly brain. To investigate whether both hemispheric asymmetry and sex differences in structural networks are present in an older population. To examine changes in the structural network using functional network measures. Findings Findings from this study were published in the journal, Neuroimage. The connectivity data of all cognitively healthy elderly subjects were collected as part of the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study and analysed by Perry et al (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.04.009).
The total contribution of vascular pathology to dementia is estimated to be as high as 50-70%. The Vascular Contributions to Dementia CRE (VCD-CRE) brings together leading researchers in the fields of cerebrovascular disease and dementia nationally and internationally, to address the most important issues relating to the analytical epidemiology of Vascular Cognitive Impairment and Dementia (VCID), its robust biomarkers, and its treatment and prevention, so as to reduce its overall health burden. The project hopes to place VCID research at the forefront of dementia research alongside that of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and meet the promise of vascular dementia as a truly “preventable dementia”. Our Team Our Research The VCD-CRE project is generously funded by the NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) scheme (RG203943; 2021-2026).