Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Valerio Zerbi (Donders Series 140)

9 December 2013

Promotors: Prof.dr. A. Heerschap, Prof.dr. C.C.A.M. Gielen

Copromotor: Dr. A.J. Kiliaan

Impact of nutrition on brain structure and function. A magnetic resonance imaging approach in Alzheimer mouse models

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia in humans. To date, no treatments are available to prevent its progression and several different pharmacological agents only ameliorate or provide temporary alleviation of the symptoms. There is increasing recognition that neuroimaging tools should be implemented in studies towards the development of new therapeutic approaches for AD. In his thesis work, Valerio developed the tools to study brain structure and function with magnetic resonance imaging in mouse models for AD and vascular risk factors, to investigate the effects of nutrition as a preventive strategy against AD.

The first part of his thesis is dedicated to the development of novel MR methods to assess AD biomarkers for preclinical studies. Several MR methods are described to assess cerebral blood volume, cerebral blood flow, water diffusivity (DTI) and resting state functional connectivity in mice.

In the second part of the thesis, these methods were applied to assess the effects of specific nutritional treatment approaches in mouse models for genetic AD and for vascular risk factors. Valerio Zerbi’s research indicates that the specific multi-nutrient diets have a beneficial effect in these mice, by improving contemporarily brain perfusion and protecting against neurodegeneration.