2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase
 

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date

4-24-2020

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Stephanie Hall and Dr. Luke Montrose

Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease and the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. Although no cure exists for AD, exercise has been shown to have neuroprotective effects, possibly through protein regulation. Epigenetics -- the study of heritable modifications that influence gene expression without changing the underlying DNA sequence -- can impact protein regulation and may link exercise with AD protection. Our study focuses on an epigenetic modification called DNA methylation.

We plan to utilize a novel rat model of AD to study how exercise training affects behavioral and physiological outcomes. In the geriatric stage, rat brain tissue (n=36) was collected for DNA methylation analysis. We selected AD-related genes for analysis including brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Here, we will demonstrate how a cutting-edge technology called pyrosequencing will be used to measure differences in DNA methylation between exercise and control groups. We expect to find hypomethylation in BDNF, IGF-1, and VEGF in response to exercise, and this can influence protein production. Findings from this study could improve our understanding of the neuroprotective effects of exercise for AD patients.

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