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15 Nov | 2023

A project coordinated by the BBRC receives funding from La Marató 2022 to investigate the relationship between cardiovascular diseases and Alzheimer’s

Dr. Juan Domingo Gispert, head of the Neuroimaging Research Group at the Barcelonaβeta  Brain Research Center (BBRC), research center of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, leads one of the 37 projects that will receive a total of 9.88 million euros raised in 2022 edition of the 3cat Marathon.

The project, in collaboration with the Carlos III National Cardiovascular Research Center (CNIC), will receive 399,675 euros over the next three years to understand the links between cardiovascular pathologies and Alzheimer's in asymptomatic stages. The initiative, under the name "Interaction between subclinical atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease in middle age", will be led by Dr. Juan Domingo Gispert, in coordination with Dr. Valentí Fuster Carulla (CNIC) and Dr. Marta Cortés Canteli (Fundación Jiménez Díaz - Health Research Institute).

The 71 beneficiary research groups collected the awards at an event held on November 8 at the TV3 premises. The projects awarded by the 3cat La Marató Foundation, in accordance with the decision of the Board of Trustees and at the proposal of the Scientific Advisory Committee, have been selected from among the 186 candidates submitted to the call for grants in 2022. The Agency of Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (AQUAS) of the Department of Health coordinated an international evaluation process in which 153 experts in cardiovascular health evaluated the works based on their quality and methodology, scientific, health and social relevance, and value innovative, among others. In 2028, the La Marató 3cat Foundation will announce the results obtained in the research work in a social return event.

Studying the link between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s

Dyslipidemia or hypertension are cardiovascular risk factors that also increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Most forms of cardiovascular disease begin with atherosclerosis, a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances in the artery walls. Both atherosclerosis and the accumulation of amyloid, which plays an initiating role in Alzheimer's, progress silently in many middle-aged people.

"Their interaction in these asymptomatic stages is little known and could be key to the prevention of dementia in more advanced stages of life", explains Dr. Juan Domingo Gispert. A study recently published in the scientific journal The Lancet Healthy Longevity, led by the CNIC and with the participation of the BBRC, indicates that atherosclerosis and its associated risk factors are involved in brain alterations typical of Alzheimer's, already in asymptomatic people of middle age.

The study of the role of subclinical atherosclerosis, when it does not yet present symptoms, opens the door to developing Alzheimer's prevention measures. "We think that around a third of Alzheimer's cases can be prevented by controlling modifiable risk factors, including cardiovascular risk factors," adds the researcher.