Cognition and Dementia

Research theme: Cell Biology and Genetics
Clinical pillar: Cognition and Dementia

We investigate the pathophysiology underlying cognitive impairment and dementia as well as the neuro-immunological mechanisms activating the innate and adaptive immune response in the peripheral and central nervous system. Research mainly focuses on the molecular, (epi)genetic, and vascular mechanisms of cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and related neurodegenerative disorders. This will improve early diagnosis and prognosis, aid to identify new drug targets, and foster personalized medicine. Most of our research is performed through international collaborations.

Unique contributions and highlights

Several projects investigate the underlying mechanisms of early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and related neurodegenerative diseases:

  •  The IMI EPND project aims to build a platform for clinical data and bio samples to make critical progress in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.

  • The MCI-SNAP study examines the underlying mechanisms of individuals with mild cognitive impairment and tau pathophysiology but without amyloid pathophysiology using cerebrospinal fluid proteomics and imaging.

  • As part of the H2020 PRIME project we investigate the role of insulin signalling as underlying mechanism of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • The EPI-AD study studies the role of epigenetic mechanisms in the development and course of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • BB-ACL is the biobank of the Alzheimer Centre Limburg, recording consecutive patients from the MUMC+ memory clinic in terms of their clinical outcomes, biomarkers, imaging, health-economic outcomes and demographics.

  • The EURLipids project (funded by Interreg) aims to set up a regional cross-border teaching, technology and innovation platform in the Euregion, working together with academic and industrial centers for lipid research.

Other projects examine the underlying mechanisms, such as immune mechanisms, of cerebral small vessel disease in relation to stroke and dementia:

  • The SVD@target study aims to identify key mechanisms common to multiple small vessel diseases and to validate novel mechanisms through interventions, with the ultimate goal of reducing the burden of small vessel diseases, stroke and dementia.
  • Vascular dementia and heart failure represent major health burden to morbidity, mortality and quality of life. We are part of CRUCIAL project, a consortium that aims to develop clinical tools to measure rarefaction in brains and hearts. Furthermore, our experimental investigations will clarify the role of microvascular rarefaction in cognitive impairment and heart failure.

Targeting epigenetic dysregulation in the brainstem in Alzheimer’s Disease