Executive Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance
Director of the Community-Engaged Research Core in the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Science
As the population continues to age, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has come to represent a major medical and social challenge. This chronic neurodegenerative disease has emerged from an obscure clinical-neuropathologic entity to one of the most common and formidable causes of morbidity and mortality in our society. In addition to the cognitive and behavioral symptoms associated with AD, there is a substantial decline in physical health as the disease progresses. Notably, persons with AD have increased risk of osteoporosis, dysmobility and falls resulting in hip fracture. This excess disability contributes significantly to the cost of care in persons with AD.
Previous reports have found an increased frequency of vitamin D deficiency in persons with AD. This is an extremely important finding as vitamin D deficiency is associated with several markers of frailty -osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and dysmobility. Preliminary data collected in the proposed study population confirms notable vitamin D deficiency and dysmobility in persons with AD.
The goals of this project are to determine the frequency of several markers of physical frailty in persons with AD and to evaluate the effects of vitamin D supplementation on frailty by conducting a randomized controlled clinical trial.
1) Individuals with AD have a greater frequency of vitamin D deficiency and resistance than healthy controls.
2)Vitamin D deficiency and resistance cause disabling functional consequences which may be reversed with vitamin D supplementation Using gene chip technology, I will compare mRNA species between samples where hedgehog signaling is activated and those where it is not.
Aim 1: To determine the frequencies of vitamin D deficiency/resistance, osteopenia, osteoporosis, and sarcopenia in elderly persons with AD as compared to those without AD.
Aim 2: To compare the effects of vitamin D supplementation on bone density and muscle mass in persons with AD.
Aim 3: To determine the effects of vitamin D supplementation on physical function, cognitive function and mood in persons with and without AD