The CART Fund is pleased to announce that Frank Sharp, M.D., University of California, Davis, has been selected to receive a 2016 Alzheimer’s research grant, in the amount of $125,000. The grant will be awarded on May 3, 2016 at the annual meeting of The CART Fund in Columbia, SC.

Research Project: Discovery of Lipopolysaccharide in amyloid plaques and peri-vascular amyloid in brains with Alzheimer’s disease

How Alzheimer’s disease forms in the human brain is a complex process that, in some people, derives from vascular damage resulting from inadequate blood supply (ischemia) or stroke. But how does that damage turn into Alzheimer’s?

Based on previous studies with rat models, we’ve learned that Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) molecules, known bacterial endotoxins, may be involved in forming the amyloid plaques found in human Alzheimer’s brain. We found that LPS combined with a small stroke in adult rats produced aggregates of brain lipids that bound Abeta 1-42 protein to produce the size, shape and distribution of amyloid plaques often seen in mouse models with Alzheimer’s.


In this study, we will examine human brain samples with known Alzheimer’s to determine the presence of E. coli LPS. We expect to show that these LPS toxins are found in the amyloid plaques and peri-vascular amyloid material found in Alzheimer’s. Since different strains of E. coli are associated with specific diseases in humans, including diarrhea, we will perform studies to determine if a given strain is found in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease brain. We propose that LPS can cause the abnormal amyloid deposits found in Alzheimer’s.

Though efforts have been made at trying to develop vaccines for pathogenic E. coli, such efforts could be stepped up and better funded. It is possible that vaccinating against LPS might protect against the development of Alzheimer’s. And since LPS acts on TLR4 receptors, the TLR4 receptor might be a target for preventing or treating Alzheimer’s.

The Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust Fund (CART) is a project of the Rotary Clubs of North America. Founded in 1995 in Sumter SC, CART provides financial support for Alzheimer’s research projects that are yet to be supported by extensive preliminary data but have the potential to substantially advance biomedical research.