Nov 26, 2021

Temerty-Tanz-TDRA Seed Fund Award Announcement

About the TDRA, Announcements, Partnerships, Research, TDRA Investigators
Seed Fund Award Winners

In collaboration with the University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine, the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance (TDRA) and the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases partnered to launch a seed funding competition. The competition aimed to support innovative basic, clinical, and translational projects focused on understanding the interactions between dementia and depression.

We are thrilled to announce that three projects were awarded seed funding in this first competition! Please see below for a description of the funded projects.

Impact of lipopolysaccharide on immune response and cerebral amyloid deposition in older adults with a history of major depressive disorder

Primary Investigators: Damien Gallagher, Ariel Graff-Guerrero

Lay Description: Activation of the inflammatory response is known to play a role in causing amyloid-beta to accumulate. Study investigators previously found that over one third of older adults living with depression have persistent inflammation. One cause for this may be breakdown of the gut barrier, which helps ensure that bacteria living in our gut remain separate from the rest of our body. Depression has been associated with breakdown of the gut barrier and increased immune response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which is a product released from the cell membrane of bacteria that live in our gut. This study aims to determine if LPS is a key driver of inflammation and increased accumulation of amyloid-beta protein in the brain, thereby precipitating depression and subsequent cognitive decline in a proportion of older adults living with depression.

The contribution of cerebrovascular disease to depression in patients with and without Alzheimer’s disease

Primary Investigators: Carmela Tartaglia, Angela Golas

Lay Description: This study aims to better understand the interrelationship of depression, neurodegeneration, and cerebrovascular disease in patients with and without positive biomarkers for Alzheimer disease (AD). The investigators hypothesize that people living with depression will have larger white matter hyperintensities volume (associated with small vessel disease), and that this will relate to cognitive impairment in both AD and non-AD patients. The study will also compare the interrelationship between depression, cerebrovascular disease, and AD between males and females. The results could provide evidence for implicating cerebrovascular disease in depression and cognitive impairment in AD and non-AD patients. This could provide rationale for primary prevention of depression with control of vascular risk factors.

Assessment of heart rate variability in older adults with lifetime history of depression or mild cognitive impairment

Primary Investigators: Linda Mah, Jean Chen

Lay Description: Higher heart rate variability (HRV) is associated with greater emotional well-being and cognitive function. Study investigators have demonstrated that increasing the duration of exhalation-to -inhalation breathing ratio leads to increased HRV in healthy older and young adults. Autonomic dysfunction is well-established in major depressive disorder (MDD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and emerging data shows evidence of the same in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The goal of this study is to assess autonomic function through measurement of HRV in remitted MDD (rMDD), amnestic MCI (aMCI), rMDD with comorbid aMCI (rMDD+aMCI), and cognitively unimpaired (CU) older adults at rest and in response to a physiological challenge. Results from this study will contribute to our knowledge of the association between autonomic dysfunction and AD risk, and could identify potential autonomic targets for AD prevention.