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2013 Grants - Wilcock
Inflammatory Biomarkers to Predict Transition to Dementia in Down Syndrome
Donna M. Wilcock, Ph.D.
University of Kentucky
2013 Down Syndrome/Alzheimer's Disease New Investigator Program
While still in their fourth decade of life, nearly all people who have Down syndrome will begin to develop brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease, although brain function does not begin to decline until later. The factors associated with declines in brain function are not well understood in people with Down syndrome. However, Down syndrome is associated with increased levels of genes and proteins that promote inflammation, which has been implicated in the development and progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Donna M. Wilcock, Ph.D., and colleagues have been studying biomarkers of brain inflammation and how they are related to the development of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers have proposed to study a group of people with Down syndrome who are at high risk of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Wilcock's team will measure a large number of molecules in the participants' serum to determine if these levels change at the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
Because the people in the study have been followed in other studies for a long time, the researchers also have access to brain imaging, which will allow them to correlate changes in serum molecules with changes in brain structure. These studies may help to identify biomarkers in serum indicating the presence of brain inflammation associated with the onset of Alzheimer's disease in people with Down syndrome.