COLLEGE OF MEDICINE AND HEALTH
Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions
Katie Lunnon RILD main

Professor Lunnon and the group will now investigate whether inflammation in the body results in epigenetic changes in microglia

Alzheimer’s Society to fund Exeter research into brain inflammation

The University of Exeter has received a £361,000 grant from the Alzheimer’s Society for a three year project to investigate the role that infections have in driving inflammation in the brain of someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

The grant comes as increasing evidence suggests that the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease is linked to inflammation and infections.

Professor Katie Lunnon, Associate Professor of Epigenetics at the University of Exeter Medical School said: “Systemic infections, like pneumonia or a urinary tract infection, are associated with the onset of dementia, a faster rate of cognitive decline, and the increased risk of death in those living with dementia. Understanding the role of inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease is of utmost importance if we are to treat the disease more effectively.”

Epigenetic processes are chemical tags added to DNA which turn genes on and off, and are susceptible to external factors such as the environment. Recently, Professor Lunnon’s group has shown that epigenetic changes are seen in many genes in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.

The group will now investigate whether inflammation in the body results in epigenetic changes in microglia – the brain’s immune cells leading to long-term changes in their function and excessive inflammation, further damaging nerve cells.

Date: 1 November 2018

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