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Dr Laura Palmer

The Renin Angiotensin System and Alzheimer's disease

Laura undertook a part-time PhD supervised by Professor's Patrick Kehoe and Seth Love between January 2006 and July 2014. Her PhD was sponsored by the charity Bristol Research into Alzheimer’s disease and Care of the Elderly (BRACE). Laura’s research involved the Renin Angiotensin System (RAS) which is an important enzyme pathway and signalling system. It acts to control blood pressure, fluid balance and hormone secretion. The RAS pathway in the brain is independent from that in the rest of the body, reflecting the fact that the components of this pathway have very specific actions in the brain. Indeed, all of the components of the RAS are present within the brain and some are thought to have neurotransmitter-like properties and have been reported to influence behaviour and cognition. There is a considerable body of epidemiological evidence suggesting links between vascular risk factors such as hypertension and Alzheimer’s disease risk, and increasing evidence that antihypertensive therapies that target the RAS may be of benefit to cognition. Immunohistochemical comparisons and mRNA studies revealed that key RAS components are significantly upregulated or showed non-significant increases in the post-mortem brain tissue of people with Alzheimer's disease with the exception of the key RAS substrate, which was decreased. The activity of one of the central components of the RAS was also found to be increased in both the brain tissue of people with Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia when compared to control cases. Other changes in the vascular dementia brain differed from those in the AD brain, suggesting both similarities and differences in the pathogenic processes responsible for these dementias.

Research keywords

  • Brain Bank
  • Tissue Bank

Diseases related to this field of research

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • dementia
  • vascular dementia