September NORC Spotlight: Angela Hanson
I am a geriatrician who became interested in dementia research after I joined Suzanne Craft’s clinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD) laboratory in 2011. As a research fellow, I worked on projects involving how high saturated fat diets and insulin resistance affect cognition and AD pathology, as well as the use of insulin as a therapy for AD. As a logical extension of my research fellowship and my clinical experience in a memory disorders clinic, I have a deep interest in how dietary factors modulate cognition and AD biomarkers. Specifically, I am interested in how the AD genetic risk factor APOE ε4 (E4) modulates cognitive and biomarker responses to diet and diet-related therapeutics such as intranasal insulin.
In 2015 I received a career development award to investigate how APOE genotype affects lipid transport and subsequent clearance of amyloid breakdown products in response to high fat feeding. One interesting finding from this work was that blood pressure changes in response to high fat feeding were more pronounced in E4 carriers, which led me to wonder if high fat feeding also affects acute cerebral blood flow. I was awarded an R01 in 2019 to further investigate this topic, titled “APOE genotype effects on triglycerides and blood flow in the human brain.” This proposal will examine brain and peripheral metabolic and blood flow responses to high fat intake in older adults by APOE genotype, including lipidomic and metabolomic markers. This work has important implications for not only Alzheimer’s disease therapy, but also clinical practice as different diets and treatments may be indicated for people with different genotypes to promote optimal cognition. I am also the site PI for the Metformin in Alzheimer’s Prevention (MAP) study which was funded in August 2019.
Our lab is currently exploring the utility of non-invasive brain imaging such as Arterial Spin Labeling functional MRI as a potential biomarker in diet and nutrition studies to enhance other more traditional dietary biomarkers. Our preliminary analyses from 30 individuals in the Lipid MRI pilot study conducted at South Lake Union showed that in healthy older adults, cerebral blood flow decreased both globally and in 3 of the 4 brain areas of interest after ingestion of lipid drink. We also found that people with hypertension had a more exaggerated drop in their cerebral blood flow after lipid ingestion. We are investigating these findings further with the parent “Lipid MRI” study (NCT04692441) where we plan to enroll 90 older adults and investigate responses at baseline and 2 hours post lipid drink. This study will include a full metabolic workup including body composition and an oral glucose tolerance test performed at the CRU at the South Lake Union campus.
We have used the following NORC services in in our recent projects: 1) Metabolomics Core; and 2) Clinical and Translational Research Services Core.
To learn more about Dr. Hanson’s research publications, Click here