The locus coeruleus:
at the crossroad of dementia syndromes

Summary

Individuals with dementia of different types often experience difficulties with attention, memory, and alertness. These functions are controlled by neurons (brain cells) coming from a small structure in the brain called the locus coeruleus (LC). We are interested in the common factors related to the loss of cells or function in the LC that are shared between dementia of different types or in different populations: those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Down syndrome (DS) and Parkinson's disease (PD).

We will (i) study noradrenergic neurodegeneration in the LC of post-mortem brain material, cellular-derived models from AD, DS and PD patients, and mouse models; (ii) study the noradrenergic system functionality in patients with and without dementia using biomarkers and PET studies; (iii) analyze the involvement of specific chromosome 21 genes in AD, DS and PD pathways.

This project aims to generate new bio-repositories from human samples and cellular-derived models for further research and to provide new knowledge about common molecular and cellular mechanisms, which could help to identify new treatment strategies. Improved knowledge of the relationship between LC degeneration and dementia biomarkers will also be valuable for diagnosis, prognosis and future clinical studies.