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Human Brain Antioxidants During Oxidative Stress


Antioxidants are natural substances that appear to fight damage caused by molecules called free radicals. As a person ages, free radicals can build up in nerve cells, causing damage that might contribute to Alzheimer's disease. In this study, researchers will measure concentrations of two antioxidants in the brain, ascorbate and glutathione, using a novel method.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
18 Years 89 Years Both Yes
June 2013
December 2017

  • Cognitively normal participants: age 18-22 and 70-89 years
  • Participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer's: age 65-89 years, Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score of 18-26

All Participants

  • Claustrophobia or implanted metal devices
  • Pregnancy
  • Taking dietary supplements ≥ 5 F+V per day
  • Smoking
  • Poor health or systemic illness
  • Unstable medication usage or use of investigational drugs
  • Psychiatric disorder or depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Inability to complete cognitive tests written for English speakers
  • Inadequate vision or hearing

Cognitively Normal Participants

  • Medical history or evidence of cognitive problems or neurological problems
  • MMSE score of 26 or lower

In the first phase of this study, brain images and spectra will be obtained for four healthy adults to validate the novel method to be used, called magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

One aim of this study is to measure the levels of two antioxidants, ascorbate and glutathione, in the human brain, specifically in the occipital cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex. Another aim is to determine whether lower levels of glutathione occur under the oxidative stress associated with Alzheimer's disease. Successful completion will determine whether low glutathione concentration in the brain is widespread in older adults and whether it is exacerbated by Alzheimer's disease.

To study normal aging, 18 healthy young (age 18-22 years) and 18 healthy older (age 70-89 years) subjects will be enrolled. To study the second aim, 23 participants with Alzheimer's disease and 23 age-matched controls will be enrolled to study neurodegenerative disease-associated demand on the antioxidant system.

Data measured in subjects with Alzheimer's may advance this powerful new technology toward discovery of an early-stage biomarker.

Name City State Zip Status Primary Contact
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis Minnesota 55455 Recruiting Melissa Terpstra
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis Minnesota 55455 Recruiting Melissa Terpstra, PhD

University of Minnesota-Clinical and Translational Science Institute

  • National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Name Role Affiliation
Melissa Terpstra, PhD Principal Investigator University of Minnesota-Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Name Phone Email
Melissa Terpstra 612-625-4927
Michelle Hartwig 612-626-2001


Noninvasive Antioxidant Quantification in the Human Brain Under Oxidative Stress