Research

NIH-funded researchers link epigenome changes to Alzheimer’s disease

Two new NIH-supported studies have shown that a person’s epigenome—the chemical modifications, or marks, on our DNA that turn gene activity on and off—may influence Alzheimer’s disease-related changes in the brain.  The two groups of researchers examined brain tissue donated by volunteers with Alzheimer’s and those free of the disease and linked a specific epigenome marker, DNA methylation, with Alzheimer’s pathology in the brain.

NIH-supported study shows promise for blood test for Alzheimer’s disease

Preliminary findings from a study by National Institute on Aging (NIA) scientists and colleagues showed that a blood test for Alzheimer’s-related proteins may accurately predict who might be at risk for the disease years before symptoms develop. The test measured the levels of several tau and amyloid proteins—the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease—in exosomes, microscopic organelles shed by brain cells.

Physical activity and Alzheimer’s-related hippocampal atrophy

Physical activity may help prevent atrophy of the hippocampus, a brain region important for learning and memory that often shrinks in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study that looked at the rate of atrophy over 18 months in cognitively normal older adults suggests that physical activity may help prevent or delay this Alzheimer’s-related change.

Blog post - Alzheimer’s disease research & the U.S. NIH: what’s new?

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International collaboration is vital to advancing Alzheimer’s disease research, from genetics to biomarkers to translational research.

Landmark A4 Alzheimer's prevention trial now enrolling

A4 study logo -- 'The A4 Study' Healthy older adults age 65 to 85 with normal memory but who may be at risk of Alzheimer’s are invited to participate in a major clinical trial to prevent or delay the disease.

Gene risk factors for age-related brain disorders may affect immune system function

Scientists have discovered gene variants that affect the function of immune cells in young, healthy people. Interestingly, many of these same gene variants are known risk factors for diseases that occur later in life, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This linking of known gene risk factors for age-related neurological disorders to immune system functions, such as inflammation, offers new insights into Alzheimer’s and other disorders and may one day lead to promising therapies.

Number of Alzheimer’s deaths found to be underreported

Official mortality figures may have substantially underreported deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 show two recent studies supported in part by NIA. Underreporting of Alzheimer’s as a cause of death on death certificates is a well-known phenomenon. Some people with the disease never receive a diagnosis. Many others have dementia-related conditions, such as aspiration pneumonia, listed as the primary cause of death while the underlying cause, Alzheimer’s, is never reported.

Blog post - encouraging older adults to participate in research

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Researchers tell us that recruiting older adults for research studies—especially older adults from underrepresented groups—is one of their greatest challenges.

Researchers find association between abnormal tau and damaged brain cell DNA

Scientists have identified a possible cellular mechanism triggered by oxidative stress and DNA damage that is linked to tau, a protein commonly seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and certain other neurodegenerative diseases called “tauopathies.” The effect was observed in fruit fly and mouse tauopathy models and in human Alzheimer’s brains.

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