Advancing Innovation & Research



Bred in the Bone


Can the strength of your bones provide a key to your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease?

NEOMED’s Christine Dengler-Crish, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, anatomy and neurobiology at NEOMED, has intriguing findings. She and her research team, including graduate students Matthew Smith (NEOMED) and Gina Wilson (Kent State University) have discovered that early reductions in bone mineral density (BMD) found in a preclinical (animal) model of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) may be due to degeneration in an area of the brainstem that produces most of the brain’s serotonin.

It’s an intriguing discovery, since the neurochemical serotonin affects our mood and sleep—two processes that are also affected early in AD. Since fewer than five percent of AD cases are clearly from genetic reasons, these new clues are especially significant and may allow earlier detection of Alzheimer’s disease processes. Besides indicating risk, reduced BMD can lead to osteoporosis and a higher risk of broken bones, decreasing quality of life and increasing mortality in AD patients.

Dr. Dengler-Crish’s research bridges two focus areas at NEOMED: Musculoskeletal Biology and Neurodegenerative Disease and Aging. Donor support helps Dr. Dengler-Crish Shine On.