LUMC investigator, dr. Louise van der Weerd, has received a 300.000 euro grant from the BrightFocus Foundation for a new research project on the histopathology of Alzheimer’s dementia. In this project, van der Weerd and her group aim to do a comprehensive analysis of the histological spreading pattern of iron in the cortex of patients with varying degrees of Alzheimer’s pathology.

Amyloid and hyperphosphorylated tau are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease, and follow a specific distribution pattern, which was described by Braak and Braak. It is increasingly being recognized that alternative pathologies such as neuroinflammation and iron accumulation are important contributors to the disease. Both present a staging system for iron accumulation in the brain. This will be investigated in a large cohort of well-defined post-mortem brains of participants in the Memory and Aging Project (MAP) at varying stages of Alzheimer’s Disease pathology, as defined by the classical Braak stages.

Secondly, using these histological iron stainings and pre-existing data of pathological hallmarks, clinical phenotype, and sn-RNASeq of this large MAP cohort, the group will investigate the associations of the iron spreading patterns with the spatial localization of pathological hallmarks, with rate of cognitive decline, and with gene expression profiles.

The research and grant funding is done in collaboration with the Florey Institute in Melbourne and the Rush University in Chicago.