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2008 Grants - Eriksen
Role of PGRN in Microglial Activity in Alzheimer's Disease
Jason Eriksen, Ph.D.
University of Houston
2008 New Investigator Research Grant
Progranulin (PGRN) is a protein that has a number of different hormone-like effects. One such effect may be activation of cells called microglia, which are specialized cells in the brain that have been linked to several neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease.
Jason Eriksen, Ph.D., and colleagues are studying how PGRN affects micro-glial cells and how those effects influence Alzheimer pathology. They have already found that the expression of PGRN in microglial cells is increased in the presence of amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles, two characteristic features of Alzheimer pathology. They also have evidence that PGRN affects a key "janitorial" function of microglial cells called phagocytosis.
Dr. Eriksen and colleagues plan to extend their studies of PGRN and micro-glial cells in a mouse model that has been genetically altered to express Alzheimer-like pathology. They will determine if reduced expression of PGRN causes an increase in the accumulation of amyloid plaque and whether this effect is due to impairment in the function of microglial cells. These studies may lead to a greater understanding of the role of PGRN in the development of Alzheimer's disease and may suggest whether PGRN is a viable therapeutic target.