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

Resilience in Andean American Indigenous with Alzheimer's disease

What factors make some populations more vulnerable developing Alzheimer’s?

Nilton Custodio, M.D., Ph.D.
Asociacion Peruana de Neurociencias ONG para la Salud - IPN
Lima, Peru


Some individuals who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s manage to avoid memory loss and other cognitive impairments. These individuals are known as “cognitively resilient.” Many factors can impact cognitive resilience, including high levels of education, access to healthcare, and social interaction. Recently, scientists have been exploring how these social determinants of health and cognitive resilience in Alzheimer’s may be linked. 

Dr. Custodio and colleagues propose an initial study that will study how social determinants of health impact cognitive resilience in the diverse population of older Aboriginal adults in Peru.

Research Plan

For their project, Dr. Custodio and the team will recruit cognitively impaired older individuals from both rural and urban communities in Peru to participate in the study. The researchers will first use blood-based biomarkers to measure levels of amyloid plaques and tau tangles, two of the hallmark brain changes in Alzheimer’s, in each participant. Next, they will administer cognitive assessments and questionnaires that will collect information on participants’ socioeconomic status and social environment. Lastly, the team will examine whether these social determinants of health are associated with cognitive impairment and the hallmark brain changes in Alzheimer’s and whether these factors contribute to cognitive resilience. 


The study results could provide insights into the underlying factors that may be associated with cognitive resilience in Alzheimer’s in the Aboriginal population of Peru. The findings may ultimately give rise to interventions that can target modifiable risk factors for individuals who are more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.

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