Principal Investigator: Dr Grazia Daniela Femminella
Institution: Imperial College LondonTags: 54410, heart rate variability, locus coeruleus, MRI
Alterations of the so called “autonomic nervous system” are common in patients with dementia. In particular, a region of the brain called locus coeruleus (LC) is the major centre in regulating autonomic function, as well as several cognitive responses. Because of its small size, it has been difficult to evaluate the LC structure and function. Nevertheless, recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, have made it possible to visualize this structure. However, few studies have so far specifically looked at LC changes in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The availability of large imaging UK cohorts, such as UK Biobank, make it possible to test whether structural and functional MRI data can be obtained on currently available images.
The aim of this proposal is to evaluate whether structural and functional MRI data for the LC can be obtained, using available protocols, and if those are related to heart rate variability, a measure of autonomic nervous system function, which can be obtained from ECG data in the same cohort. Establishing whether structural and functional LC measures can be obtained on existing data would be extremely important to test hypothesis on LC involvement in aging and in AD pathology.