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2012 Grants - Weuve
The Red Cell Distribution Width, a Potential Marker of Dementia Risk
Jennifer Weuve, Sc.D.
Rush University Medical Center
2012 New Investigator Research Grant
Measurement of the width of red blood cells is a standard part of a blood test, and reveals the variation in width across a large sample of red blood cells. Recent studies have found evidence that the amount of variation in this measure, the red cell distribution width (RDW), is related to a person's risk of cardiovascular disease. The explanation for this connection is unclear, but one hypothesis is that the inflammation that accompanies cardiovascular disease increases RDW.
Jennifer Weuve, Sc.D., and colleagues have proposed a large-scale study to examine whether increased RDW is also related to a person's risk of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers plan to use existing data and blood samples from three large, ongoing studies of aging and Alzheimer's disease. They will use statistical methods to determine if increased RDW is related to cognitive decline, risk of dementia including Alzheimer's disease, and changes in brain structure measured by magnetic resonance imaging. These studies could improve our understanding of the role of inflammation in neurodegenerative disease, and they could lead to a simple way to detect people at risk of cognitive decline or dementia who may benefit from early treatment.