Harnessing antioxidants to protect against early changes in Alzheimer’s disease

Scientists in Edinburgh are investigating whether a protein, Nrf2, can protect against damage caused by reduced blood flow in the brain.



The aim of this project is to investigate a protein, Nrf2, and its ability to protect against damage caused by reduced blood flow in the brain. The team will also look at the effects of boosting the activity of Nrf2 in mice.

Evidence suggests that reduced blood flow in the brain may be an early contributor to Alzheimer’s. Previously, the researchers have shown that reduced blood flow can trigger a rise in harmful molecules called free radicals in the brains of mice. The protein Nrf2 is mobilised in response to free radicals and calls into action over 200 antioxidant and anti-inflammatory proteins to defend the body against harm. By closely examining this protein, scientists will be able to understand more about its role in protecting the brain. They hope to use this knowledge to develop interventions to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.

The researchers will study the chain of events triggered by the Nrf2 protein in mice with restricted blood flow, looking at what other genes and proteins are involved. They will also use memory tests to look at the effects of reduced blood flow and Nrf2 on cognition. In order to investigate potential interventions to increase the activity of the protein, the team will study mice bred to have high levels of Nrf2 activity and mice treated with an experimental drug designed to bolster Nrf2 activity, to see if this makes them more resilient to damage caused by reduced blood flow.

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Awarded to
Dr Jill Fowler

University of Edinburgh

Current Award

15 August 2015 - 14 August 2018

Full project name
Therapeutic potential of boosting astrocytic Nrf2-mediated antioxidant signalling in combating white matter damage, amyloid pathology and cognitive deficits caused by chronic cerebral hypoperfusion