Room 203, Sanders-Brown Center on Aging
800 South Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40536-0230
Pharmacology & Nutritional Sciences and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging
Prevention and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
The goals of our research are to identify interventions that may prevent the onset and/or progression of Alzheimer’s disease and thus promote healthy brain aging. To do this, our lab tests hypotheses using a canine model of human brain aging. Our focus is on testing combinations of treatments, each targeting different pathological pathways associated with aging or Alzheimer’s disease. Aging canines naturally develop learning and memory impairments, as well as similar types of brain pathology as humans. Our studies are multidisciplinary and range from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to testing cognitive function (learning and memory) and neurobiological studies (anatomical, genomics and proteomics). We currently have two canine studies in progress: (1) to identify gene expression changes in the brains of aged animals treated either with a diet high in antioxidants/mitochondrial co-factors, or with behavioral enrichment or treated with a combination of both diet and enrichment; (2) to test the hypothesis that vaccination with beta-amyloid peptide when combined with behavioral enrichment will lead to significant improvements in cognition and reductions in neuropathology in aged canines.
In parallel with work in animal model systems, our laboratory is also following learning and memory changes with aging in adults with Down syndrome http://www.uky.edu/DSAging/). People with Down syndrome are at a high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease because they have an extra copy of chromosome 21 and the overexpress beta-amyloid protein. Our study participants undergo neuropsychological tests, a neurological and physical examination and magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, blood samples are drawn and a variety of protein levels are being measured. In the future, we hope that treatments developed in the canine model can be translated to people with Down syndrome to slow or prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.