Skip to main content

Tau Kinetics in Healthy Aging and Alzheimer's Disease


This study will assess how the Alzheimer's-associated protein tau is made, transported, and cleared using a novel approach to measure tau with an essential amino acid called leucine, which is naturally available in many foods. Researchers are recruiting younger and older adults who are cognitively normal and older adults with Alzheimer's disease.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
18 Years N/A All Yes
August 2015
September 2021

  • No evidence of a neurologic disorder or traumatic head injury
  • Able to take food and drink by mouth safely
  • Absence of exclusion criteria

  • Require tube feeding for nutrition and/or hydration
  • On a special diet (e.g., gluten free)
  • History of bleeding disorder
  • Allergy to the local anesthetic lidocaine
  • Pregnancy
  • Any reason participant can't have lumbar puncture (e.g., blood thinners)

Participants will either be given leucine through intravenous infusion (IV) or in a drink. The IV method will first be tested in a young control group. Meals will be provided by the research kitchen to control for the natural leucine found in people's diets. If IV infusion is not successful, the study will use a proven oral method of providing leucine. Participants will pick up food three times a week, along with a leucine supplement that they will mix and drink in Kool-Aid three times a day for 10 days. All participants will undergo five lumbar punctures in order for researchers to analyze tau in their cerebrospinal fluid. 

Name City State Zip Status Primary Contact
Washington University in Saint Louis
Saint Louis Missouri 63110 Recruiting Melissa M Sullivan

Washington University School of Medicine

  • BrightFocus Foundation
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Name Role Affiliation
Randall Bateman, MD Principal Investigator Washington University in Saint Louis

Name Phone Email
Melissa M. Sullivan 314-747-4857
Melody Li 314-273-6062


CNS Tau Kinetics in Healthy Aging and Alzheimer's Disease