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Grantee in the News: Cynthia Carlsson, Dena Dubal, and Ozioma Okonkwo co-author Alzheimer’s disease study in Neurology

May 11
2017

Grantee in the News: Cynthia Carlsson, Dena Dubal, and Ozioma Okonkwo co-author Alzheimer’s disease study in Neurology View MoreBACK


On May 3, 2017, Neurology published research co-authored by three AFAR grantees: 2002 Merck/AFAR Junior Investigators and 2005 Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award in Aging recipient, Cynthia M. Carlsson, MD, MS; 2015 AFAR Research Grant for Junior Faculty, 2009 Paul Beeson Career Development Award, and 1998 AFAR/Glenn Scholarships for Research in the Biology of Aging recipient, Dena B. Dubal, MD, PhD; and 2013 Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award in Aging scholar, Ozioma Okonkwo, PhD. The aim of the study was to identify an early marker for Alzheimer's disease, focusing on the gene mutation called the BDNF Val66Met allele, also known as Met allele.

In BDNF Val66Met predicts cognitive decline in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention, the researchers studied 1,023 healthy adults, around 55 years of age, for up to 13 years. Memory and thinking skills were evaluated at the start of the study and at each study visit, up to five visits. The researchers found that a total of 32 participants had the Met allele gene mutation and lost memory and thinking skill faster than their counterparts.

Dr. Okonkwo explains: "When there is no mutation, it is possible the BDNF gene, and the protein it produces are better able to be protective, thereby preserving memory and thinking skills. This is especially interesting because previous studies have shown that exercise can increase levels of BDNF. It is critical for future studies to further investigate the role that the BDNF gene and protein have in beta-amyloid accumulation in the brain."

The journal Neurology is only accessible with a subscription, but an abstract is available here. The research was recognized in a related feature story on the website Medical News Today that can be viewed here.

Cynthia M. Carlsson, MD, MS is an Associate Professor of Geriatrics at University of Wisconsin Department of Medicine.
Dena B. Dubal, MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of California at San Francisco Memory and Aging Center.  
Ozioma Okonkwo, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Geriatrics at University of Wisconsin Department of Medicine.


For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, we encourage you to explore our expert-edited Infoaging Guide to Alzheimer’s disease here.





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