To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.
2010 Grants - Rowe
Christopher Rowe, M.D., Ph.D.
CSIRO Preventative Health
2010 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
The Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle study of Aging (AIBL) is a major study designed to improve our understanding of the causes of Alzheimer's disease, to improve diagnosis of the disease in its early stages, and to help identify factors that delay development of the disease. Dr. Christopher Rowe and colleagues conducting the AIBL study are performing extensive tests of brain function in more than 1100 elderly persons, including repeated testing to assess how the disease develops over time. They are also measuring blood levels of various biochemicals in an effort to determine how those biochemicals are related to the development of disease.
One component of the AIBL study involves brain imaging in a subset of participants who are either healthy, already have Alzheimer's disease, or have mild cognitive impairment, which is a strong risk factor for development of Alzheimer's disease. For these imaging studies, Dr. Rowe's team is using positron emission tomography (PET) scanning along with a tracer dye known is the Pittsburgh compound (PiB). PiB has been developed and studied in recent years as a dye that labels beta-amyloid, a protein fragment that accumulates in the brain of persons with Alzheimer's disease and is believed to be a cause of brain degeneration.
To date, Dr. Rowe's team has completed initial brain imaging in almost 300 persons participating in their study. Their results show that beta-amyloid levels are higher in the brains of persons with a genetic variation known as ApoE4. This finding is important because the ApoE4 genetic variant is known to be one of the strongest risk factors for late-onset Alzheimer's disease. The researchers also found that beta-amyloid levels increase during normal aging, but that levels were higher in persons with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Rowe's team had initially planned to study how beta-amyloid levels change during an 18-month period. Although they found increases during that time, the researchers plan to extend the study for two more 18-month periods in order to collected much more valuable information. They will perform repeated brain scanning and tests of brain function in the same individuals to determine how increases in brain beta-amyloid levels are related to declines in brain function over time.
These studies will help to define the role of beta-amyloid in the development of Alzheimer pathology, and they will help to determine if PET scanning using PiB can be used to diagnose early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, the researchers are collaborating with another major international effort known as the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), and their results will become a valuable contribution to that effort. This collaboration has been facilitated by the Alzheimer's Association and the sharing of data funded by the Alzheimer's Association International Research Grant Program.