Women are disproportionately affected by the disease, making up two-thirds of the patient population. Hormonal changes during menopause can lead to obesity and pre-diabetes, which are known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Kristen Zuloaga’s research on mice will determine the effects of menopause on memory and look at whether increasing estrogen in the brain could reduce damage.
“About 80% of those with Alzheimer’s disease have either pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. For our mice, we feed them a high-fat diet that is equivalent to eating double bacon cheeseburgers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” said Dr. Zuloaga, an associate professor at Albany Medical College.
“Then, we can look at the effects of this metabolic disease that we caused on the Alzheimer’s disease pathology in these mice, and we can induce menopause,” she said. Then, in the second year of the study, she’ll try to reverse the damage by using a brain-specific estrogen.