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2008 Grants - Rusinek
Hippocampal Blood Flow and Vascular Reactivity in Normal Aging and Alzheimer's Disease
Henry Rusinek, Ph.D.
New York University School of Medicine
New York, New York
2008 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Previous imaging research has shown that blood flow abnormalities in the hippocampus may correspond to brain changes caused by Alzheimer's disease. The hippocampus is a brain region associated with learning and memory. However, these earlier studies involved imaging methods that were generally expensive, invasive and insufficiently precise. Therefore, measuring blood flow as a diagnostic or disease-monitoring strategy will require the development of more practical and accurate imaging technologies.
Henry Rusinek, Ph.D., and colleagues believe they have developed such a technology. Their imaging method, which is based on arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging (ASL-MRI), is a non-invasive technique that can measure hippocampal blood flow more accurately than can earlier techniques.
Dr. Rusinek and colleagues plan to assess the effectiveness of their technology. They will enroll and test 45 participants with Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment (a condition that often precedes Alzheimer's) or no cognitive impairment. The researchers hope to determine whether abnormal hippocampal blood flow can predict abnormal shrinking of the hippocampus. Such shrinking occurs early in Alzheimer's disease, and it becomes more acute as the disease progresses.
The results of Dr. Rusinek's study could lead to a safe, accurate tool for determining Alzheimer risk. The study could also shed light on the biological mechanism underlying the development of Alzheimer's disease.