Identification of risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and dementia

Research is being carried out on the identification of risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, with a particular emphasis on potentially modifiable factors. The aim is to understand the natural history of dementia as it evolves across the lifespan and discover new opportunities for prevention and treatment.

Studies have already been conducted to identify the associations between low serum vitamin D levels and cognitive impairment in the Health Survey for England and cognitive decline in the InCHIANTI study. Similarly an association has been established between passive smoking (assessed using salivary cotinine) and cognitive impairment in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. This has led to an ongoing programme of work to further explore these relationships in different populations and evaluate the therapeutic potential of emerging biomarkers. Research is also being carried out in the identification of vascular aspects of dementia and the interplay between vascular and neurodegenerative pathologies using new imaging technologies and genetic factors.