Research Projects

Infections and Alzheimer’s disease: the consequences for tau.

Awarded to:
Prof Jessica Teeling

Current award:

University of Southampton

1 October 2023 - 30 October 2027

Full project name:

Systemic infections accelerate tau spreading by promoting glial activation






In Alzheimer’s disease, proteins called tau stick together and form damaging tangles in brain cells. These tangles can then spread to other areas of the brain and cause a loss of brain function.

Researchers are investigating why this happens and how it causes the symptoms of memory loss that people with Alzheimer’s experience.

Prof Teeling’s lab group has found that bacterial infections such as a chest infection, can speed up memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s. In their lab, the researchers found that similar infections increased the amount and spread of tau tangles in the brain.

A PhD student in Prof Teeling’s lab will investigate the brains of mice with features of Alzheimer’s disease, after the animals have been exposed to an infection. This will help understand the link between the spreading of tau tangles and bacterial infections.

They will then look at brain tissue from people who had Alzheimer’s disease and an infection when they died. And compare this tissue to the investigations conducted with mice to see if similar changes occur. The student will also examine blood samples for evidence of increased tau protein and inflammation.

This project unravels the link between bacterial infections and how tau protein causes disruption in the brain. Since people can easily be treated for bacterial infections, it gives researchers an opportunity to develop new drugs for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Help us fund more projects like this one

Dementia is one of the world’s greatest challenges. It steals lives and leaves millions heartbroken. But we can change the future.