Vascular Dementia Research

Our division seeks to understand how pathological aging and neurodegenerative diseases (Vascular Dementia) differ from normal aging.

Our division seeks to understand how pathological aging and neurodegenerative diseases (Vascular Dementia) differ from normal aging, and how metabolic states influence brain health.

As we age, our brains start to show signs of decreased neuroplasticity and resilience, abnormal neural activity, cell damage and inflammation. These changes make the aging brain more vulnerable to diseases. Emerging research is demonstrating that modern, sedentary and over-indulgent lifestyles can accelerate brain aging. In contrast, lifestyles that include intermittent fasting have been shown to foster healthier brain aging.

Current Research Projects

More than 57 million people are estimated to be currently living with dementia worldwide. By 2050, it is predicted that dementia prevalence will increase by nearly 300 per cent. Vascular dementia (VaD) is the second leading cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. VaD is associated with disruptions of blood flow to the brain, and its prevalence increases steeply with age. In a recent landmark study, our team demonstrated that activation of the AIM2 inflammasome (one of the many molecules which initiative an inflammatory response) contributes to both brain pathology and cognitive impairment in VaD. The team is currently investigating therapies to treat VaD, and novel biomarkers for early diagnosis of VaD in humans.

Intermittent fasting is a dietary protocol, where energy restriction is achieved by alternating between periods of normal food consumption and fasting. Intermittent fasting in rodents has been shown to reduce or prevent cellular dysfunction and degeneration in age-related neurological and cardiovascular diseases. Over the last 15 years, we have discovered that intermittent fasting protects against stroke-induced brain injury and vascular dementia. Our team is currently studying if and how intermittent fasting can slow brain ageing, age-related physical decline and improve longevity in animals.

We found that low oxygen levels in the brain activate a multi-protein complex that we have called the ‘hypoxisome’. This complex binds proteins to determine the fate of neurons, and we are studying the function of its various components in models of stroke, vascular dementia and ageing.

Team members

  • Professor Thiruma (Garrie) Arumugam (Division Head)
  • Dr Quynh Nhu Dinh
  • Mr Yibo Fan (PhD Student)
  • Ms Nishat Tabassum (PhD Student)
  • Ms Dalal Jasim (Honours Student)