Andrew Arrant, PhD — Assistant Professor           aa photo
   Department of Neurology
   UAB – School of Medicine
    Investigating Pro-inflammatory Changes in Extracellular Vesicles from Aged Brains

The goal of this project is to investigate the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in inflammation of the aging brain. This project builds on prior work on which Dr. Arrant and his team adapted  techniques for the isolation of extracellular vesicles to make possible to obtain them from frozen brain tissue. The purpose of extracting EVs from frozen tissue was to facilitate studying the role of these vesicle in a mouse model of frontotemporal dementia. Unexpectedly, using this technique Dr. Arrant and his team found that age had a greater impact in EV contents than mouse genotype — they found that EVs from older mice (regardless of phenotype) contained higher levels of glial and senescence-associated proteins, but lower levels of neuronal proteins. Following on this preliminary study, Dr. Arrant and his team will conduct a pilot assessment to test the hypothesis that EVs secreted by reactive and/or senescent glia promote inflammation in the aging brain. The specific aim of this pilot project would be to begin analyzing levels, contents, and functional effects of brain EVs from aged mice. The completion of this study will facilitate supporting data for subsequent extramural grant applications related to EVs role in aging in heath and disease.

rs37198 smith giri 4   Smith Giri, MD, MHS — Assistant Professor
   Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology & Oncology
   UAB – School of Medicine

   Evaluation of SARC-F as a Screening Tool to Identify Sarcopenia among Older
   Adults with Cancer

Sarcopenia is a syndrome that includes progressive and overall loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength, ultimately leading to physical disability. This study will examine the validity and prognostic value of using in older adults diagnosed with cancer the SARC-F questionnaire — a 5-item self-reported screening tool —, which is used in the rapid screening of sarcopenia in older adults. The central hypothesis for this project is that SARC-F is a valid, and clinically relevant, screening tool to assess for sarcopenia in older adults diagnosed with cancer. This tool may help to streamline clinical care, and allow early identification of those at risk of sarcopenia — therefore, help to refer them for further sarcopenia-specific testing and provide an opportunity for early intervention. This will be a prospective study — Dr. Giri and his team will recruit for this pilot project a new cohort of older adults diagnosed with cancer. The results from this pilot will help establish the base for larger future studies.

skains headshot   Rachel M. Skains, MD — Faculty Instructor
   Department of Emergency Medicine
   UAB — School of Medicine

   Risk of Delirium with Opioid Use Among Older Adults in the Emergency Department

This project will examine the association between opioid exposure and delirium among older adults by identifying predictors of delirium beginning with their stay in the Emergency Department (ED), and continuing throughout hospitalization. This pilot study will be a single-center cohort assessment of patients admitted to the hospital from the UAB Highlands Geriatric ED who were not admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. At UAB, patients aged ≥65 who arrive to the emergency department are assessed using the “Identification of Seniors at Risk” (ISAR) score as well as the “Emergency Severity Index” (ESI). When these patients present an ISAR score ≥2 and ESI level, this immediately triggers a Geriatric Emergency Nurse Assessment in the ED — including the Nursing Delirium Screening Scale (NuDESC); thus, providing continuity of delirium screenings with the inpatient setting. However, the NuDESC has yet to be validated in the ED. Dr. Skains and collaborators will test the hypothesis that opioid exposure will independently increase the risk of delirium, and that the NuDESC will have adequate accuracy and reliability in the ED setting. This study will examine independent predictors of delirium using univariate logistic regression analysis; and will develop a multivariable logistic regression model to determine if ED opioid exposure is independently associated with delirium, adjusting for confounding risk factors. Concurrently, the study will validate the NuDESC in the ED setting. This pilot study will provide the ground work and preliminary data for future larger studies that will compete for extramural funding.

liou sun   Liou Y. Sun, MD, PhD — Assistant Professor
   Department of Biology
   UAB – College of Arts and Sciences

   A novel drug candidate for Alzheimer’s disease: TCAP-1

The long-term goal of Dr. Sun and his team is to understand the molecular basis of brain aging as well as the way chronological aging contributes to pathological aging and neurodegenerative disorders. The specific objective of this study focuses testing the effects of novel pharmacological interventions for Alzheimer’s disease. For this purpose Dr. Sun and collaborators will use genetically manipulated rodents that present AD-like pathology (e.g., TgF344-AD rats). One potential therapeutic candidate is a novel bioactive peptide, known as “teneurin C-terminal associated peptide 1” or TCAP-1. This peptide is a 41 amino acid molecule located on the distal terminus of the teneurin transmembrane protein. Recently, TCAP-1 was found to have potent roles in glucose metabolism and mitochondrial function. The hypothesis is that TCAP-1 treatment will increase metabolic health, and delay the development of behavioral and neuropathologic anomalies in AD. This project will examine that effects of TCAP-1 treatment on age-related healthspan assessment for metabolic, behavioral, pathologic and molecular endpoints in the TgF344-AD rats. Dr. Sun and his team plan to examine the effectiveness of short-term TCAP-1 administration on AD-related phenotypes. These preclinical studies will help to evaluate TCAP-1 as a potential therapeutic candidate for AD.

wolfe department picture   Joseph D. Wolfe, PhD — Associate Professor
   Department of Sociology
   UAB – College of Arts and Sciences

   The Impact of U.S. State Policies on Debt-based Health Disparities in Late Midlife

Dr. Wolfe’s recent research focus has been on assessing wealth and health in late midlife. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY-79) — an ongoing survey funded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that has been collecting data continuously since 1979 — Dr. Wolfe’s research has shown a robust association between debt and multiple health outcomes among adults entering late midlife. This proposal is an extension of this research, but shifting focus to assess state-level policies and laws that may help explain why there is such a large association between debt and health in the U.S. The main goal of this pilot study is to start the ground work for the addition of state-level data to the NLSY-79 — this will increase the impact and relevance of the NLSY79 by giving researchers, policymakers, and community-based organizations a new resource to facilitate advances in research on the impact of state policy on the lives of a large cohort of adults in late midlife. This pilot proposal will serve as the foundation for a subsequent larger study seeking extramural funding.