Presentation Time: 9:25-9:45
Home University: UNC-Chapel Hill
Research Mentor: Dr. Leon Coleman, Pharmacology
Research Title: Persistent Effects of Alcohol Use on Alzheimer's Disease Tau Pathology
Several epidemiological studies have found that heavy alcohol use may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD), although the mechanisms behind this link are unclear. The increase in neuroinflammation seen during alcohol abuse and AD may drive this connection, however, the effects of heavy alcohol use on Alzheimer’s pathology during abstinence have not been explored. Additionally, the persistent effects of alcohol abuse on the sexual dimorphism of AD pathology remain to be explored. Triple transgenic AD mice models were treated with ethanol for three months during adulthood followed by five months of abstinence to model sustained recovery following heavy alcohol use until Alzheimer’s pathology begins to develop. By visualizing brain tissue via immunohistochemistry and analyzing cortical and hippocampal protein and gene expression through western blotting and RT-PCR, the sustained changes in AD pathology as a result of alcohol abuse were studied. The two pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (amyloid plaques and tau tangles) were measured to directly analyze these conditions. Although there was not a persistent increase in amyloid plaques as a result of alcohol use, there was a persistent increase in phosphorylated tau in female subjects, particularly in the piriform cortex, which is known to be sensitive to alcohol. There is a correlation between the increase in phosphorylated tau with long-term changes in several genes known to play a role in immunoinflammatory responses.