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Wellcome trust grant

Published: 23 September 2010

Wellcome trust grant

Jessica Teeling and Hugh Perry (School of Biological Sciences) have been awarded a 3 year project grant by the Wellcome Trust.

LAY SUMMARY: When we have an infection such as a cold or ‘flu', we feel ill and our mood and memory are affected, but this is reversible and we recover. Animal studies have shown, however, that this effect is no longer harmless if a degenerative process has begun in the brain. We have also shown that people with Alzheimer's disease who suffer from a systemic bacterial or viral infection decline more rapidly. Surprisingly, we know remarkably little about how peripheral infections affect the immune cells in the brain: for how long they affect the brain immune cells, and whether different infections have different effects. We propose that infections ‘prime' the immune cells in the brain so that a second insult, injury or disease induces these cells to make molecules with the potential to cause permanent damage to nerve cells. We also propose that immune cells in the aged brain are more reactive than in the young brain; they are more easily primed by systemic infections and give exaggerated responses to a second insult. We believe that understanding how infections affect the young and aged brain will lead to interventions to improve the quality of life of the elderly with brain disease.

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