Dr. Terrando Awarded Alzheimer’s Association Grant

Niccolò Terrando, BSc (hons), DIC, PhDThe Alzheimer’s Association has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Niccolò Terrando, PhD, a $150,000, three-year research grant for his project, titled “Bioelectronic Regulation of CNS Lymphatic Drainage in Delirium and AD.”

Postoperative delirium has become the most common complication in older adults. Unfortunately, surgery is often unavoidable and patients who have mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are at further risk to develop cognitive deterioration, even death. Neuroinflammation and impaired lympho-vascular function are gaining considerable interest as critical drivers for cognitive deficits. These pathological features, including abnormal Aβ deposition, are found both in humans and animal models of delirium and dementia. Terrando has pioneered a clinically-relevant mouse model of orthopedic surgery that triggers neuroinflammation and cognitive decline. Recently, his laboratory has demonstrated a neuroprotective role using minimally-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (termed pVNS) that can resolve microglia activation and delirium-like deficits (Duke Health news release link).

Imaging of glia-vascular interactions in clarified brain tissue (courtesy of the Terrando lab).

In this study, Terrando will collaborate with Anthony Filiano, PhD (Duke Neurosurgery), and Carol Colton, PhD (Duke Neurology), to examine how surgery affects immune-cell trafficking to the brain and if pVNS can modulate central nervous system (CNS) lymphatics to possibly prevent surgery-induced neuroinflammation and delirium-like behavior. The long-term goal is to define the mechanisms that underlie surgery-induced cognitive dysfunction using innovative approaches like single cell RNA-seq and tissue clarification, which will aid the development of safe and effective approaches to reduce delirium superimposed on dementia.

“We are grateful to have received this award from the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research; this grant will contribute to fundamental knowledge about the effects of surgery on neuroinflammation and impaired lympho-vascular function,” says Terrando. “Such knowledge is highly significant because it has the potential to improve surgical outcomes and quality of life for millions of elderly and vulnerable patients in the United States.”

Stacey HiltonDr. Terrando Awarded Alzheimer’s Association Grant