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Systemic Inflammatory Networks in Alzheimer's Disease

Funding year(s): 
2015 to 2016
Funding to date: 
$400,000

A common early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is short-term memory loss. As the disease worsens, symptoms can include problems with language, disorientation, mood and behavior changes, confusion about events, difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking. AD is the most common form of dementia and worsens over time, accounting for approximately 70 percent of dementia cases. It is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by loss of normal brain function as a result of damage and destruction of nerve cells. The damage occurs when structures called plaques, which are protein deposits called beta-amyloid, and tangles, which are fibers called tau, build up in the brain and interfere with nerve function. Brains of AD patients also contain inflammatory cells, but the relevance of inflammation to disease development and exacerbation is unknown. Inflammation is a biological response to damage, stress and infection. It is a natural defense process that manifests itself as heat, pain, redness and swelling, playing an essential role in disease. Depending on the extent, type and duration of inflammation, the process either can be helpful or harmful, because it can remove the offending pathogen, but it also can cause damage to healthy tissue. This grant will investigate how inflammation in the body and inflammation in the brain influence AD. The main hypothesis of this project is that inflammation exacerbates AD and is thus a major component of AD pathology and a potential therapeutic target.