Alzheimer’s Association Grant Furthers Research into Obesity, Brain Aging and Dementia

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

Share this article:

Share article via email
obesity and dementia study

The Alzheimer’s Association has awarded a $118,673 grant to a researcher at Boston University School of Medicine to study how obesity affects brain aging and, potentially, a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

The researcher, Claudia Satizabal, has been associated for several years with the Framingham Heart Study, working with Dr. Sudha Seshadr of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Boston University.

“Populations worldwide are facing an obesity epidemic, and these same populations are aging and will contribute to the growing prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” Satizabal said in a press release. “Therefore, it becomes imperative to understand the mechanisms by which obesity increases the risk of dementia and [Alzheimer’s disease], which may help develop health policies and treatment strategies to diminish the consequences of obesity in late life.”

The two-year award will fund the scientist’s ongoing research into associations between midlife obesity and various dietary, inflammatory and neurotropic (associated with nerve cells or tissue) markers; between stroke, cognitive function, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) markers; and between midlife obesity and abnormal brain aging and dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Satizabal earned her PhD by studying associations between inflammatory proteins and cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative MRI markers of abnormal brain aging in the Three-City Study conducted in France.

As a researcher, she has also led projects on genetic variation in fine motor speed, visual memory and subcortical brain structures for a consortium called Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE).

In other news, the Alzheimer’s Association released a number of pointers during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month that both debunked myths associated with the disease and underscored facts related to the disease.

Among the disease facts in the release: Alzheimer’s is not part of normal aging; Alzheimer’s does more than just rob a person of memory (the Association also noted 10 Key Warning Signs); Alzheimer’s in the U.S. disproportionately affects women, African-Americans, and people of Hispanic origin; early diagnosis matters; Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented, but healthy habits can reduce a person’s risks (10 Ways to Love your Brain); and that Alzheimer’s is now the most expensive disease in the U.S.