Understanding Cellular Basis of Gender Differences in Neurodegenerative Disease

Flora Vaccarino, MD

Flora M. Vaccarino, M.D., Professor of Neurobiology and in the Child Study Center

Dr. Vaccarino is taking initial steps toward understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie gender differences in aging, and will identify genes expressed in brain cells, called astroglial cells, involved in aging. 

These cells, the most abundant cells in the brain, play roles in key areas including maintenance of the blood-brain barrier, transmission of electrical signals, and repair of nerve cells. Gene identification may enable the targeting of particular cellular genes that control growth and play roles in determining gender differences in neurodegenerative diseases and aging. 

Thus, this study represents first steps at identifying new targets in developing interventions for neurodegenerative disorders, particularly those which are more common in women such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.