The link between cardiovascular disease and neurodegeneration – focus on Alzheimer’s disease

Project Details

Midlife hypertension has emerged as a prominent risk factor for later-life Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. A history of midlife hypertension has also been associated with poorer cognition in older individuals, accompanying hippocampal atrophy. Importantly, midlife hypertension is associated with increased deposition of hyperphosphorylated tau protein in Alzheimer’s cases when measured at autopsy. These findings raise the possibility that hypertension increases the risk for this disease by hyperphosphorylating tau protein, which causes direct toxicity toward neurons, and also disrupts the normal function of tau protein. In this project, in collaboration with colleagues at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, we will investigate the protective role of tau protein in cardiac physiology and pharmacology.

Ashenafi Betrie, PhD candidate, seen in the laboratory
Figure 1: Mr Ashenafi Betrie, PhD candidate, studies right and left atria from aged mice with neurodegenerative disease


Associate Professor Christine E. Wright, BSc Hons, PhD, Laboratory Head

Professor James A. Angus, AO, BSc Hons, PhD, FAA, FAHMS (Hon)

Mr Ashenafi Betrie, BSc, MSc (Ethiopia), PhD candidate

Mr Mark Ross-Smith, BSc Hons, Senior Research Assistant

Ms Linda Cornthwaite-Duncan, Technical Officer


Dr Scott Ayton and Professor Ashley Bush, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne


Melbourne Neuroscience Institute Interdisciplinary Seed Funding

Miscellaneous Grants

Research Publications

  • Betrie AH, Lei P, Ayton S, Bush AI, Angus JA, Wright CE. Evidence of a cardiovascular function for microtubule-associated protein tau. J Alzheim Dis 2017; 56: 849-860.

Research Group

Christine Wright laboratory

Faculty Research Themes

School Research Themes

Cardio-Respiratory, Biomedical Neuroscience, Therapeutics & Translation

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Biochemistry and Pharmacology

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