Mitochondrial DNA Copy Number, Cognitive Decline in Old Age, and Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

Room G13, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, 651 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115

This seminar is sponsored by the Department of Biostatistics of the Harvard School of Public Health and features Christopher D. Corcoran, ScD, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the Utah State University.


An abstract of the talk is as follows:


Mitochondria convert calories within cells into energy through a process that yields oxidative stress. As mitochondria additionally play a key role on the signalling pathway that regulates cell death, emerging hypotheses in the study of age-related diseases are focusing on the role of mitochondrial function.


A novel assay that measures average mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) amounts in human cells has recently been used on samples from the Cache County Memory Study (CCMS), and initial results indicate strong associations between mtDNA intensity with both Alzheimer's Disease onset and cognitive decline. Because of linkage between members of the CCMS with the comprehensive geneological records in the Utah Population Database, mtDNA sequencing of a relatively small proportion of the CCMS cohort (about 200 individuals) will allow imputation of mtDNA sequences for nearly all 5092 CCMS participants. This will provide a rich resource for further exploring associations between dementia risk and cognitive change with specific mtDNA mutations and haplogroups.

Continuing Education Credits: 
Contact Person(s): 

Norberto Pantoja-Galicia, PhD

Email:  npantoja [ at ] hsph [dot] harvard [dot] edu