Inflammation May Drive Development of Tau Tangles in Alzheimer’s Disease

Recent NIA-funded research has revealed that inflammation may drive the development of tau tangles in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Abnormal neurofibrillary tangles of tau protein are one of the hallmark features of AD, along with beta-amyloid plaques.  While amyloid plaques have been linked with inflammatory changes in AD, the relationship between inflammation and tau pathology has not been fully understood.  In a study published in Nature, researchers used a mouse model to evaluate what would happen to tau proteins when an inflammasome, or a complex of proteins known to trigger inflammatory cascades, was “knocked out,” or rendered inactive.  The results revealed that blocking the action of the inflammasome NLRP3 prevented tau aggregation and tangling, which, in turn, led to better memory performance in the transgenic knockout mice.  The study also suggested that amyloid deposition and tau pathology are linked by the action of the inflammasome.  Therapies which block the inflammasome could reduce tauopathies (which are hypothesized to follow beta-amyloid deposition) and limit subsequent AD symptomatology. 

Personality Traits in Early Life May Predict Dementia Risk 50 Years Later

A recent NIA-funded study has shown that personality traits in early life may predict dementia risk 50 years later.  The study used data from Project TALENT, the largest survey of U.S. high school students in existence.  Project TALENT began in 1960, surveying over 1,200 high schools and 377,000 students across the country.  The current study included approximately one quarter of the original respondents and sought to evaluate associations between personality traits in adolescence and dementia risk in later life.  Ten traits were assessed as part of the Project TALENT personality inventory; of these, vigor (reflecting vitality, energy, and physical activity) was associated with a decreased risk of dementia in later life.  Two additional traits, calmness and maturity, were associated with decreased dementia risk, although these associations appeared to be moderated by socioeconomic status.  These findings, published in JAMA Psychiatry, support prior research which has linked early life experiences to later life cognition and dementia risk.

Cleared concepts: Early notification for future funding possibilities

NIA Deputy Director, Dr. Marie Bernard discusses NIA atest collection of cleared concepts for funding opportunity announcements (FOAs).  NIA thinks of the cleared concepts as an early notification system that provides the research community with precious time to consider future applications and chart new directions for their labs or centers. Check out the latest blog from NIA

National Research Summit on Care, Services, and Supports for Persons with Dementia and Their Caregivers

Registration for the National Research Summit on Care, Services, and Supports for Persons with Dementia and Their Caregivers, which will take place on March 24-25, 2020 on the NIH campus, is now open. This Summit will bring together individuals with a variety of backgrounds to identify evidence-based programs, strategies, approaches, and other research that can be used to improve the care, services, and supports of persons with dementia and their caregivers.  The meeting will  include plenary talks, research presentations, discussion panels, and a poster presentation session at this two-day event. For more information on logistics of the Summit, and to register, please visit the summit website