26th Annual Alzheimer Day September 24, 2020

The Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease presents the 26th Annual Alzheimer Day virtually. The afternoon will include an update on Alzheimer’s disease research by Sandra Weintraub, PhD, presentations by scientists investigating in this field, stories from individuals impacted by dementia, and a Q&A session.

Thank you for joining us!

Learn more about the research happening in our community below.

Marie and Carl Duncan Prize in Memory Disorders Research

Professor Carl Duncan is widely regarded as the first to demonstrate the existence of memory consolidation, showing the vulnerability of recently stored memories. His landmark work is cited morethan half a century later. Upon his passing in 1999, his wife, Dr. Marie Duncan, who received her medical degree from Northwestern, set up the Duncan Fund to encourage research and discussion on issues related to memory. In addition to an annual lecture on fundamental research on memory in the name of Professor Duncan, the Duncan Fund inaugurated in 2006 the Marie and Carl Duncan Prize in Memory Disorders Research to award accomplishments in clinically relevant arenas of inquiry.

This year two abstracts were chosen to be the Duncan Prize winners.

Age prediction and amyloid deposition in SuperAgers

Presenting author: Adam Martersteck

The role of astrocytes in the propagation of tau45-230-induced neuronal degeneration

Presenting author: Chloe Parker

Northwestern Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia Research Abstracts

Cell and Molecular Biology

The role of astrocytes in the propagation of tau45-230-induced neuronal degeneration

This abstract was a winner in the Duncan Prize competition.

Our data identified a novel mechanism by which astrocytes are activated and may contribute to the propagation of the disease process in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other tauopathies. In addition, they highlight the relevance of the calcium-dependent protease calpain as a therapeutic target for preventing both neuronal loss and astrocyte-mediated inflammatory response in affected brain areas in AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Presenting author: Chloe Parker

Aging primes microglia for aberrant antigen presentation and initiation of persistent cognitive decline

While many key genetic and environmental risk factors for dementia have been identified, the ways in which individuals transition from being “at risk” to actually developing dementia remain largely unknown. We are therefore investigating the link between severe infection, such as pneumonia, and the development of cognitive impairment in vulnerable populations.

Presenting author: Rogan Grant

Clinicaopathologic Studies

Lower CSF Amyloid Level is Associated with Sooner Anti-Psychotic Use in Alzheimer Disease: A Survival Analysis

Aggression and agitation are challenging yet common symptoms of Alzheimer disease commonly treated by anti-psychotics. Looking at the relationship between biomarkers of Alzheimer disease and anti-psychotic use may help prognosticate behavioral symptoms when diagnosing patients with CSF.

Presenting author: Joshua Cahan

Anatomic Distribution of Pick Disease in behavioral variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD) using Stereological Analysis

The tau form of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-tau) is a class of neurodegenerative diseases found at autopsy that underlies a wide range of clinical dementia syndromes, commonly affecting individuals under age 65. This study aims to clarify the relationship between a type of FTLD-tau pathology known as Pick's disease and distinct clinical features associated with the behavioral variant form of FTLD. Findings will inform our understanding of the putative substrates of neurodegeneration in FTLD-tau, and are highly relevant to the future development of disease-specific biomarkers and therapeutic approaches.

Presenting author: Allegra Kawles

Exploring relationships between tau burden and naming in the aphasic variant of Alzheimer’s disease

The findings indicate that a new type of positron emission tomography (PET) scan that can detect the hyperphosphorylated tau protein could be important for predicting the clinical decline in patients with dementia caused by underlying Alzheimer disease.

Presenting author: Adam Martersteck

Platelet Biomarkers for the Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

The identification of inexpensive, accessible, and early-developing biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease has a massive potential to transform both how and when we care for those with the disease. This study identified several vascular biomarkers for early-stage AD that can be measured using a simple blood test.

Presenting author: Paul Knepper


Mapping in vivo Olfactory Anatomical Connections in the Human Brain

The sense of smell is the most commonly affected sense in aging, with over 90% of Alzheimer’s disease patients showing olfactory deficits. The present study will provide the first comprehensive characterization of the healthy olfactory brain anatomy. In future studies, we will compare olfactory brain areas in Alzheimer’s disease patients, MCI patients, and cognitively normal elderly adults, to provide evidence for the development of an early, noninvasive olfactory neuroimaging biomarker for identifying elderly adults at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Presenting author: Shiloh Cooper


Precision scanning of brain networks in older adults

Our project will examine the individual features of network organization in a small sample of older adults. Measuring individual variability in brain function may help us understand the sources of variability in aging as well as provide clinically useful biomarkers.

Presenting author: Diana Perez

Plasma lipoprotein profile in novel transgenic mouse model is modulated by Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk factors: Potential as an AD biomarker

The objective of the project is to find a prognostic biomarker for Alzheimer's Disease (AD) that will allow patients to easily track their risk and pathology for AD.

Presenting author: Bingtao Xiang

Hippocampal subfield deformation shows unique patterns associated with amyloid-beta, TDP-43, and PHF-TAU burden

These results may indicate a potential non invasive biomarker of disease that can inform treatment and disease progression.

Presenting author: Ashley Heywood

Soluble protein extraction from paraformaldehyde (PFA) and neutral buffered formalin (NBF) fixed paraffin embedded human brain tissue

Effective extraction of soluble proteins from PFA and NBF fixed paraffin embedded human tissue provides a useful approach for quantitative comparative studies of neurodegenerative disease associated proteins and other biomarkers.

Presenting author: Jaclyn Lilek

Evaluation of antipsychotic drug treatment and histone deacetylase inhibition on the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model

This project is innovative and important, as it will begin to establish a translational pipeline by associating BPSD in AD patients with molecular/epigenetic alterations, and by investigating the manipulations of these pathways in transgenic AD mouse models. Achieving these goals will lead to a better understanding of BPSD in AD patients and will help to identify novel targets for future therapeutic approaches.

Presenting author: Bryan McClarty

Cortical Atrophy in Adults 80+ Years with Superior Memory vs Cognitively Average Middle Age Adults

“SuperAgers” are a unique cohort of individuals who are adults 80 years and older with memory ability at least as good as cognitively average 50-60 year old adults. In this study, we hope to explore whether the brain volume of SuperAgers is different or similar to those of middle-age adults with similar memory abilities.

Presenting author: Fatima Eldes

Relationship Between Whole-Brain Resting Connectivity, Cortical Thinning, and Symptoms in Primary Progressive Aphasia

These findings provide us with more information as to the functional and structural abnormalities of language impairment in PPA.

Presenting author: Kyla Guillaume

Brain Metabolic Changes Underlying Symptoms in Primary Progressive Aphasia

These findings offer insight into the link between underlying changes in regional neural metabolism and symptoms in PPA.

Presenting author: Jordan Behn

Connectivity-Based Differentiation of Agrammatic and Logopenic Variants of Primary Progressive Aphasia Using a Whole Brain Data Driven Approach

These results suggest novel neural network targets for therapeutic interventions. These finding highlight unique patterns of decreased connectivity for PPA subtypes PPA-G and PPA-L.

Presenting author: Jordan Behn

Current Clinical Trials at the Mesulam Center

Presenting author: Brittanie Muse

Imaging Core at the Northwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center

The Imaging Core at the Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease aims to enhance research activities on aging and dementia within and outside of Northwestern University.

Presenting author: Jaiashre Sridhar

Calbindin-D28K, Parvalbumin and Calretinin in Young and Aged Human Locus Coeruleus

The findings of this research suggest that calbindin-D28K is unlikely to contribute to the vulnerability of neurons to neurodegeneration.

Presenting author: Ivan Ayala

Neuronal number and size display concordance with disease phenotype in primary progressive aphasia with TDP-43 pathology

These preliminary findings suggest that neuronal size and to a lesser extent neuronal number show alterations in PPA-TDP that are consistent with regional specificity and asymmetry of language function.

Presenting author: Ivan Ayala

Detection of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinase 3 (MAP2K3) Immunoreactivity in the Human Cerebral Cortex

This abstract was a runner up in the Duncan Prize competition.

We are trying to detect the quantity of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinase 3 (MAP2K3) in brains, which we suspect has a great effect on memory.

Presenting author: Yuting Pan

Longitudinal Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease Study (LEADS)

Presenting author: Brittanie Muse

Research Satisfaction Survey

Summary of the data collected from the Research Satisfaction Survey in the Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease (A4) Study at the Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology & Alzheimer’s Disease

Presenting author: Brittanie Muse

Memory Improvement through Nicotine Dosing (MIND)

Presenting author: Brittanie Muse

Age prediction and amyloid deposition in SuperAgers

This abstract was a winner in the Duncan Prize competition.

SuperAgers, are 80+ year olds who are resistant or resilience to age-related memory loss. Here, we 1) study the amount of amyloid accumulation and 2) the shape of SuperAgers brains with a machine learning technique called a convolutional neural network, similar to the ones being developed by Google and others to create self-driving cars. The machine predicts an individual's age based just on the shape of a brain. SuperAger's brains are predicted as 20 years younger than their actual age. Additionally, they have much less build-up of the amyloid protein, a hallmark of Alzheimer disease, than expected for 80+ year olds.

Presenting author: Adam Martersteck

Shifts in a Potential Plasma Biomarker for Alzheimer’s Disease with the Mediterranean Diet

Currently, there is no preventative treatment for AD, and even if such a therapeutic could be identified, without a predictive biomarker, a target population for treatment could not be determined. Thus, healthcare professionals, those affected by Alzheimer's Disease, and those who are considered high risk would all be interested in this work.

Presenting author: Sandra Coronel

Strain-specific accumulation of human transgenic TDP-43, inclusion formation and microglia activation in a mouse model for frontotemporal lobar degeneration

Our TDP-43 mouse model serves as a valuable tool in examining the temporal sequence of TDP-43 inclusion formation and its association with neuronal degeneration.

Presenting author: Ivan Ayala

Status of Prefrontal Cortex Synaptic Proteins in Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration with TDP-43 Pathology

This abstract was a runner up in the Duncan Prize competition.

The findings in this research will help us understand the reasons and effects of the loss of synapses in neurons.

Presenting author: Ivan Ayala

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Communication Bridge: A person-centered Internet-based intervention for individuals with Primary Progressive Aphasia

The Communication Bridge delivers web-based Speech-Language Pathology treatment to individuals with PPA and their communication partners all over the world. This trial takes place completely online, through a computer that is sent to participants. Sessions occur over video-chat and participants have a personalized website where they can access resources and practice exercises.

Presenting author: Libby Rogers

Attitudes About Brain Donation Among African American Research Participants

Brain donation, a crucial part of Alzheimer's research, is less common among African American research participants. This disparity results in limited knowledge about effective diagnosis and treatment options for African Americans. Trauma-informed and culturally responsive interventions are essential to address disparities in Alzheimer’s research participation and clinical care for African Americans.

Presenting author: Deborah Dyslin

Adjective use by individuals with agrammatic primary progressive aphasia

Our results suggest that attributive adjectives present a particular challenge for individuals with agrammatic language production, and add a new dimension to the description of agrammatism. Our results further suggest that attributive adjectives may be a fruitful target for treatment of agrammatic language.

Presenting author: Matthew Walenski

Northwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center Outreach, Recruitment, and Engagement (ORE) Core 2019-20

Presenting author: Darby Morhardt

NIH Toolbox In The Trajectory From Healthy Cognitive Aging to Alzheimer’s Type Dementia

This abstract was a runner up in the Duncan Prize competition.

Brief, computerized measures, such as the NIH Toolbox, are needed for early and rapid identification of individuals at risk for dementia. Preliminary findings from the ARMADA (Advancing Reliable Measurement in Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Aging) study demonstrate that the NIH Toolbox tests are sensitive to differences among individuals with normal cognition, MCI, and early Alzheimer’s dementia.

Presenting author: Tatiana Karpouzian-Rogers

Northwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center (NADC) Clinical Core

The purpose of the Clinical Core study is to provide state-of-the-art care to patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, and support clinical and basic research on memory and aging. The Clinical Core study collects, stores, and shares clinical data, brain imaging scans, and biological samples from research participants to collaborators in order to support varying types of research on healthy aging and dementia.

Presenting author: Michaela Riley

Online Delivery of a Positive Emotion Intervention for Alzheimer’s Caregivers: LEAF 2.0 and SAGE LEAF

Advantages of online delivery of interventions include reduced cost, broader dissemination, enhanced fidelity to the intervention protocol, and greater accessibility for individuals to participate at their own convenience from anywhere they have access to the internet. In a previous randomized trial of online facilitated delivery of positive emotion skills for dementia caregivers, psychological well-being and caregiving burden improved, and increased positive emotion was the mechanism by which caregiver depression was reduced.

Presenting author: Veronika Grote

Verb comprehension in primary progressive aphasia

Our results are consistent with relatively preserved verb comprehension in PPA-G and PPA-L, but do indicate specific verb comprehension deficits in the semantic variant of PPA. The findings from this study add to our growing body of knowledge concerning the nature of the language deficits across the three variants of PPA, and may contribute to improved diagnostic tests and treatment interventions.

Presenting author: Matthew Walenski

Musical Bridges to Memory (MBM): exploring the effects of a dyadic music-based group intervention on social engagement and neuropsychiatric symptoms in persons with dementia

Music-based interventions, such as the Musical Bridges to Memory Program, can be a replacement for pharmacological interventions in behavioral symptom management, without the risks that such drugs may cause. In addition, the program reduces the level of distress care partners experience due to their loved one with dementia's symptoms.

Presenting author: Rhiana Schafer

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