School of Psychology News & events

Research Summary

Graham, K, Wise, R, Lawrence, A, Williams, J, O'Donnell, V, Jones, S (2013 - 2014) Elucidating functional brain imaging biomarkers for risk genes implicated in Alzheimer's disease. Wellcome Trust. £68,208.

Summary

Alzheimer's disease (AD) impairs spatial navigation, and spatial memory tasks can discriminate individuals in the early prodromal stage from healthy controls. We have recently shown significantly greater brain activity during scene memory in healthy undergraduates (aged 19-­‐20 years) who are single allele carriers of the APOE-­‐ε4 risk gene (compared to non-­‐carriers). The region that showed this difference was posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), one of the earliest areas affected in AD. This finding implies 'imaging' changes many years in advance of the overt cognitive impairment characteristic of AD.

This proposal funds a postdoc to collect critical new data in these groups. We will determine the re-­‐ test consistency of our imaging findings, and augment this with novel vascular and MR Spectroscopy measurements to investigate potential blood flow and/or metabolite PCC changes in carriers (compared to non-­‐carriers). Given the contribution of AD risk genes to cholesterol transport and immune response, we will collect life-­‐style questionnaire data, and investigate whether there is altered lipid metabolism and inflammatory processing in our carrier group.

This project involves Cardiff experts working on imaging, immunity, neurodegenerative genetics and molecular biochemistry, a multi-­‐disciplinary approach vital to identifying novel biomarkers necessary for implementing a life-­‐span approach to AD.