2015-2016 Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases Research Award*

Investigating the Relationship between Benzodiazepine Medications and the Development of Blood Brain Barrier Dysfunction as Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease

VCoA*The Virginia Center on Aging which administers the Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases Research Award Fund for the Commonwealth of Virginia, provides seed money to researchers in Virginia to stimulate innovative research into biomedical and psychosocial aspects of dementia, including cell biology, caregiving, and animal modeling.


Investigating the Relationship between Benzodiazepine Medications and the Development of Blood Brain Barrier Dysfunction as Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease

MaryPeace McRae, PharmD, PhD and Patricia Slattum, PharmD, PhD

Virginia Commonwealth University

The main focus of this project was to accumulate experimental evidence that would establish a mechanism of the observed association between benzodiazepine use and the development of AD. The goal of these studies was to investigate the effects of benzodiazepine medications on the integrity and function of the blood brain barrier (BBB). Utilizing the in vitro human BBB model already established in the investigator’s lab, studies confirmed the hypothesis that select benzodiazepines alter measurements of barrier integrity. The ability of the barrier to maintain its selectivity was only modestly affected by the benzodiazepines, and treatment with alprazolam did not result in changes in amyloid β flux across the barrier. Further work will be conducted to examine the effects of the benzodiazepines on the expression of the transport proteins involved in amyloid beta passage across the BBB.

(Dr. McRae may be contacted at 804/628-5076, mpmcrae@vcu.edu; Dr. Slattum may be contacted at 804/828-6355, pwslattu@vcu.edu)

 

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