In the United States, one in nine people aged 65 years and older is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), and the total number of individuals living with AD is rapidly increasing throughout the world. While there are no known determinants of the most common form of AD, some individuals are at greater risk of AD than others. For example, even after considering AD genetic risk, there is an increased prevalence of the disease among socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals.

A flyer has been created on this topic.

These health disparities indicate that specific lifestyle and environmental factors likely expose AD vulnerabilities during older age. Identifying these factors and understanding how they relate to AD risk and progression is critical in battling the disease. In parallel to this challenge, it is evident that some individuals can harbor significant AD-related brain pathology yet show minimal behavioral signs of dementia. These factors suggest unidentified properties of brain health and cognition that both support brain function and relate to the progression of brain disease in older age. We need to identify biomarkers that measure these properties, ideally years in advance of AD onset, so that we have an opportunity to alter the development of the disease.

Dr. Gagan Wig, Ph.D., and his team at UT Dallas have discovered a novel imaging-based biomarker of brain network organization. This brain network organization is prognostic of Alzheimer’s Disease in older-age adults. The team has also demonstrated how changes in brain network organization differ as a function of educational attainment and environmental exposures. They are now pursuing this work to identify the specific health, lifestyle, and environment-related factors that impact brain health in advance of brain decline. Their broader goal is to isolate modifiable risk factors directly linked to maintaining brain health across adulthood.

Find out more about this exciting discovery. Join at 3 PM on Wednesday, February 16th, 2022 to the Research 411 Talk Show: Environment-Related Disparities in Brain Aging as a Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease.