A number of genetic and modifiable lifestyle factors influence one’s resilience or vulnerability to cognitive decline and risk of dementia in advanced age. The Biomarkers, Risk Factors & Co-morbidity research program is focused on elucidating the mechanisms underlying cognitive decline by bridging levels of analysis from single molecules to complex behaviors. Central themes in this program area include identifying simple biological or behavioral biomarkers that can be used to predict and/or track decline, as well as investigations of modifiable risk factors and comorbidities that can be targeted to promote cognitive resilience.
UF researchers received a $572,000 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to conduct a first of its kind study on the effects of bariatric (weight–loss) surgery on brain function, thinking and memory.
CAM Center laboratories have access to facilities that enable state-of-the-art measurements of gene expression in brain and other organ tissues, as well as miRNA analysis from blood. Techniques for next generation sequencing of RNA and DNA methylation are employed to test hypotheses of gene regulation in resiliency in the face of aging, inflammation, oxidative stress, and changing hormonal milieu. Additionally, studies in humans and animal models examine miRNA from plasma exosomes as markers of aging and disease.
CAM Center laboratories are examining the molecular fingerprints of cognitive function in advanced age using nanoparticle tracking analysis of exosomes (NanoSight 300, Malvern Instruments), high-resolution automated electrophoresis of DNA, RNA, and protein samples with the Agilent Bioanalyzer system and 2200 TapeStation system (Agilent Technologies), and multiplexed analysis of cellular function and metabolism with the XFe96 Agilent/Seahorse Flux Analyzer.
In an issue of The Neuroscientist, Jolie Barter, a graduate research assistant, and Thomas Foster, Ph.D., Evelyn F. McKnight Chair for Research on Cognitive Aging and Memory, examined the role of epigenetics in the process of brain aging and cognitive decline.