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2024 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)

Biological validation of MBI as part of the ADRD spectrum

How are behavioral changes in Alzheimer’s linked to the hallmark brain changes of the disease?

Natalia Rocha, Ph.D.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Houston, TX - United States


Mild Behavioral Impairment (MBI) may be associated with neuropsychiatric symptoms such as apathy, depression, anxiety, and sleep difficulties. Studies have shown that symptoms of MBI can occur early during Alzheimer’s development before the initial signs of cognitive impairment and may be associated with the accumulation of amyloid plaques and tau tangles, two of the hallmark brain changes that occur in people living with Alzheimer’s. However, the relationship between these changes and MBI symptoms remain unclear.

Research Plan

Dr. Natalia Rocha and colleagues will recruit 90 participants for their studies, including 30 individuals with Alzheimer’s, 30 with MBI, and 30 cognitively unimpaired older adults. They will leverage clinical data, cognitive measures, biological markers (biomarkers) measured in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid (the biological fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord). Using blood and CSF collected from the participants, the researchers will measure changes in beta-amyloid and tau levels and associate them with the extent of MBI for each individual.


The results of this study may provide new insights into how MBI is linked to the hallmark brain changes in Alzheimer’s. A better understanding of these mechanisms could identify MBI as a potential biomarker for Alzheimer’s.

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