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WVU researcher explores connection between sepsis and dementia

WVU Today

Candice Brown, center, an assistant professor in the WVU School of Medicine, works with her laboratory assistants, from left, Divine Nwafor, an MD/PhD neuroscience student, Allison Brichacek, a PhD student of immunology and microbial pathogenesis, and Sneha Gupta, a second-year School of Medicine student. They are investigating how sepsis may precipitate and exacerbate dementia.
(WVU Today photo)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In the short term, sepsis can injure patients’ lungs and kidneys, trigger problems with blood clotting and cause the liver and other organs to fail. But in the long term, patients who overcome sepsis may face other health issues. Particularly, sepsis survivors are more likely to develop long-term changes in learning and memory, and they may show signs of dementia earlier and to a more severe degree.

Scientists don’t yet grasp the intricacies of the relationship between sepsis and dementia. Candice Brown, an assistant professor in West Virginia University’s School of Medicine and Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, is studying that relationship in order to bring about insights that help prevent or mitigate the neurological impact of sepsis.

Brown, who is also a member of the WVU Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research and the WVU Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology, is investigating how sepsis and dementia interact with each other on a cellular and molecular level, potentially making both diseases’ symptoms more intense and their onset premature.

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