To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left side.
2008 Grants - Jefferson
Left Ventricular Function and Mild Cognitive Impairment
Angela L. Jefferson, Ph.D.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
2008 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Scientists have long recognized blood vessel diseases as risk factors for developing Alzheimer's disease. These diseases also contribute to such heart disorders as systolic dysfunction, or the inability of the heart to pump blood properly. Moreover, systolic dysfunction itself may increase Alzheimer risk among people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is a condition of slightly impaired memory that often precedes Alzheimer's.
In preliminary research, Angela L. Jefferson, Ph.D., and colleagues analyzed medical data from people who had heart disease but no clinical signs of dementia. These analyses found a correlation between systolic dysfunction and abnormal white matter. White matter is a kind of complex "wiring system" connecting nerve cells in different brain regions with one another. The earliest stages of Alzheimer's may involve subtle changes in the brain's white matter.
Dr. Jefferson's team plans to conduct a more thorough analysis of the relationships between systolic dysfunction and dementia. They will administer cognitive tests, medical exams, brain scans and heart scans to 60 participants with MCI who are age 60 or older. The researchers will then analyze the data to test whether impaired systolic function is associated with early biological indicators of Alzheimer's disease and disorders of the brain's blood vessels. Results from their study could lead to a novel approach for diagnosing Alzheimer's at its earliest stages.