Leibniz-Forschungsverbund
Gesundes Altern

© LFV Healthy Ageing / Tröster

Focus Groups

Healthy Ageing: Developmental pathway analyzes and multifactorial explanations

Head:
Prof. Dr. Jean Krutmann (IUF)

Thematic focus:
The thematic focus of this intiative centers on analyzing potential factors conductive to healthy aging from an environmental, epidemiological, physiological, and urban planning viewpoint, building on data from comprehensive longitudinal studies. An additional focus ist cost estimation to quantify the extent to which healthy aging can contribute to a population's welfare.

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Health (Information) literacy as a contribution to Healthy Ageing

Head:
Dr. Anne-Kathrin Mayer (ZPID), Carolin Knauber (DIE)

Thematic focus:
The focus group aims at a) understanding personal, social, and environmental factors that determine health (information) literacy in middle and older adulthood and b) fostering adequate use of health information by interventions on an individual or group level (e.g., educational programs) or ecological level (e.g., public health campaigns). Possibilities to conceptualize and evaluate theory-based intervention concepts tailored to the needs of specific target populations will be discussed.

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Determinants of learning and neural plasticity in ageing: From mice to men

Head:
Prof. Dr. Michael Falkenstein (IfADo), PD Dr. Stephan Getzmann (IfADo)

Thematic focus:
Human ageing is associated with deficits in goal-directed learning and reduced neural plasticity. Yet, the underlying neural mechanisms remain poorly understood as most age-comparative human studies rely on correlational designs. Our focus group develops a species-comparative paradigm to examine effects of external (e.g. environmental enrichment) and internal (e.g. epi-genetic) factors as well as interventions (cognitive, physical training) on learning strategies and neural plasticity in ageing.

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Alternative animal models of ageing

Head:
Prof. Dr. Thomas B. Hildebrandt (IZW)

Thematic focus:
To better understand the principles of ageing, the focus of this group is to elucidate genetic and biochemical factors which determine the ageing process across different species. This involves the use of non-model-species, e.g. ones with extremely short or long life expectancies. The knowledge of different solutions that have evolved in response to similar biochemical challenges - attenuating or enhancing life-expectancy - may be applicable to contribute to an extended health span in human societies in the future.

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Immunology and ageing

Head:
Prof. Dr. Radbruch (DRFZ)

Thematic focus:
Over the recent years it became clear that ageing of the immune system influences organismal ageing. Researchers from the participating Leibniz institutes teamed up with external partners to delineate molecular mechanisms, genetic factors, and cellular interactions that lead to functional impairments of the immune system in the context of ageing as well as its consequences for organismal ageing. We want to answer if ageing-associated impairments in immune function aggravate damage accumulation and biological ageing.

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Synaptic ageing: Implications for the ageing brain

Head:
Dr. Michael Kreutz (LIN)

Thematic focus:
Ageing and cognitive decline are highly correlated in the elderly population even in the absence of neurodegenerative diseases. Despite the high burden for each individual and the society as a whole the molecular, cellular, and behavioral underpinnings of cognitive decline are barely understood. Synaptic dysbalances involving altered synaptic proteostasis and altered functionality of chemical synapses in the brain accompanied by dysfunctions of the immune system as well as changes in neuromodulation and in compensatory mechanisms have been identified as the core for cognitive decline. In our focus group we will address these topics from biochemical, molecular/cellular and systems neuroscience perspectives to eventually break ground for synapse-targeting intervention strategies.

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Healthy Ageing in place: Impacts of urban settings on biological ageing processes

Head:
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Müller (IÖR)

Thematic focus:
Urban settings, like ageing sensitive urban development and ageing responsive housing, social and environmental conditions which facilitate ageing in place, seem to have positive effects on biological ageing of individuals. However, until now it has been difficult to support this hypothesis by concrete data. On this background, it is discussed how “biomarkers of ageing” can be used to gain knowledge on impacts of urban settings on biological ageing.

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Biomarkers of ageing associated dysfunctions and diseases

Head:
Prof. Dr. Helmut E. Meyer (ISAS)

Thematic focus:
The identification of biomarkers e.g. proteins, metabolites and lipids is relevant for the health status of the human metabolic system and age-related diseases, e.g. Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common cause of dementia in elderly (50–70%). These markers can be used for detecting the early onset of such diseases, as prognostic parameters as well as for monitoring the success of disease treatments. In order to investigate such markers we established a blood biobank (>2000 characterized blood donors) and investigated the composition of Platelet-derived extracellular vesicles (Pl-EVs). Using differential centrifugation, nanoparticle tracking analysis, mass spectrometry and Western blot technology we identified Pl-EVs subpopulations which contain high amounts of AD relevant molecules: i.e. APP, the AD hallmark protein and ApoE, the most prominent genetic risk factor for AD [1]. This indicates that Pl-EVs can shuttle bioactive molecules (ApoE, APP) and nutrients (phospholipids, sphingolipids and cholesterol) between the blood compartment and neural cells. Expansion of microvesicles may negatively affect the structure and/or function of neurons under certain pathological circumstances. The focus of the research group is the molecular investigation of Pl-EVs, which will provide the basis for an understanding of their role regarding the biogenesis of AD and other ageing associated dysfunctions. Therefore, we cooperate with highly qualified partners of the Leibniz Research Alliance, the Leibniz Institute on Aging -  Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) and the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE) and also external clinical partners (University of Regensburg and University of Göttingen). This gained knowledge will result in the identification of pre-symptomatic biomarkers which will allow for a therapy (elimination of neurotoxic Pl-EVs subpopulation and components) preventing irreversible neuronal damage and in this way a proper treatment of this so far incurable disease.

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