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Locus Coeruleus

Principal Investigator:  Dr Ruihua Hou

Study Coordinator: Rebecca Ollington

 

The locus coeruleus (LC) is a tiny nucleus in the brain stem.  Evidence from animal and post-mortem studies suggest that the LC is damaged in Alzheimer's disease with some arguing that it is one of the first brain areas to be damaged.  Recently, a new high-resolution MRI imaging technique has been developed which allows us to see this small structure on a brain scan.  This pilot study aims to test how successful this new MRI technique is at detecting signal intensity in the LC in people with Alzheimer's disease and to examine the quality of these images.  It aims to see whether there are differences in the LC signal on the MRI scans between people with Alzheimer's disease and age-matched healthy control subjects.  

Changes in pupil size and responses to light and other physiological measures e.g. heart rate and blood pressure, have previously been used as indirect measures of LC activity.  This study will therefore also look at the link between changes in the signal intensity of the LC as shown on the MRI scan and these other biological and physiological measures.

The LC produces an important chemical called noradrenaline (NA).  Current treatments for Alzheimer's disease do not affect this chemical.  This study will advance our understanding of the role of the LC and NA in Alzheimer's disease which may lead to the development of new treatment targets.

We are looking for volunteers over the age of 50 with either a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or who have had no memory problems (to act as the controls) to participate in this study.

If you are interested in finding out more or if you would like to find out whether you would be suitable for this study please contact the MARC team on 02380 475206.

Find out more

To find out more please email SHFT.MARC@NHS.NET