Assistant Professor Anna Barron
Nanyang Assistant Professor
Principal Investigator, Neurobiology of Ageing and Disease
Lab website: www.neurobiologyaging.com
Dr Anna Barron is a Nanyang Assistant Professor at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University and a Researcher at the Department of Functional Brain Imaging Research, the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Japan.
After obtaining an Honours degree and PhD in Neuroscience from The University of Western Australia, Dr Barron carried out postdoctoral work at the Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California in the United States, before joining the Department of Biophysics and Life Sciences at The University of Tokyo. Her early career research has been recognised by a number of prestigious awards, including the 2008 Women in Endocrinology Young Investigators Award, 2009 American-Australian Neurological Fellowship, 2010 Invitational Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion for Science, and the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association Imaging Consortium Fellowship. In 2016, she received the elite Nanyang Assistant Professorship Award.
Integrating in vivo Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with cellular, molecular, biochemical and behavioural approaches in preclinical animal models of disease, Dr Barron has made significant contributions to our understanding of how complex ageing, neuroendocrine and lifestyle factors alter susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease. Since commencing her career in 2005, Dr Barron has published more than 20 articles in the leading Neuroscience and Endocrinology journals including The Journal of Neuroscience, Neurobiology of Aging, Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology and The Journal of Endocrinology.
Research in the Barron Lab is centred on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of normal and pathological brain ageing. We employ 2-photon microscopy, PET and MRI imaging modalities in combination with cellular, molecular, biochemical and behavioural methodologies to evaluate complex and dynamic pathological changes at both the cellular and system levels longitudinally in living animal models of ageing and disease. This approach promises new insights into degenerative mechanisms, potential biomarkers and candidate therapeutic targets to promote healthy brain ageing.
1) Inflammation & Alzheimer’s disease
Ageing is tightly associated with chronic inflammation, which has been identified as both a key contributor to the initiation and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and a compelling therapeutic target. However, inflammatory processes play a complex role in Alzheimer’s progression, with some aspects of inflammation eliciting beneficial effects, while other aspects accelerate the disease process. In order to develop effective immune therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, we are working to identify (i) biomarkers that can distinguish detrimental versus trophic modes of inflammation, and (ii) therapeutic strategies that can inhibit detrimental inflammation whilst promoting beneficial effects.
2) Neurosteroidogenesis and neuropsychiatric disease
Neuroactive steroid hormones are potent endogenous neuromodulators affecting complex behaviours including anxiety and depression, altering susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disease and have been implicated in cognitive ageing. We are working towards understanding the mechanisms regulating biosynthesis of these hormones in the brain (a process known as neurosteroidogenesis) and to identify compounds which can promote neurosteroidogenesis for potential therapeutic use in the treatment of neuropsychiatric disease such as Alzheimer’s disease.
3) Lifestyle factors for successful ageing
Obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are leading global health issues with growing evidence that metabolic abnormalities at midlife may increase the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease in later life. We are investigating the molecular links between obesity, age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, evaluating candidate neuroimaging biomarkers for detection of early midlife indicators of disease risk and evaluating the efficacy of preventative interventions.
• Role of the translocator protein (TSPO) in inflammatory responses to Alzheimer’s neuropathology
• Neuroprotective mechanisms of TSPO ligands
• Efficacy of new generation TSPO ligands in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease
Fig. 1. Interactions between ageing & lifestyle factors in age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease
1. Porcu P, Barron AM, Frye C, Yang S-Y, Melcangi R, Panzica G. (2016). Neurosteroidogenesis today: Novel targets for neurosteroid synthesis and action and their relevance for translational research. J Neuroendocrinol. 28(2).
2. Barron AM, Brown MA, Lin SA, Morgan T, Pike CJ. (2015). Impact of cyclic versus constant progesterone regimens on estrogen neuroprotection in rat entorhinal cortex. Endocrinol. 156(3):1091-9.
3. Barron AM, Rosario ER, Eltereifi R, Pike CJ. (2013). Sex-specific effects of a high fat diet on indicies of metabolic syndrome in 3xTgAD mice: Implications for Alzheimer's disease. PLOS One. 28:8 (10)* e78554.
4. Barron AM, Garcia-Segura LM, Caruso D, Jayaraman A,Won Lee J, Melcangi RC, Pike CJ. (2013). Ligand for translocator protein reverses pathology in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. J Neurosci. 33(20): 8891-8897.
5. Caruso D*, Barron AM*, Brown MA, Abbiati F, Carrero P, Pike CJ., Garcia-Segura, L-M., Melcangi, R.C. (2012). Age-related changes in neuroactive steroid levels in 3xTg-AD mice. Neurobiol Aging. 34(4):1080-9. (2013).*Both authors contributed equally.
6. Aras R, Barron AM, Pike CJ. Caspases contribute to astrogliosis. Brain Res. 1450:102-115.
7. Barron AM, Pike CJ. (2012). Sex hormones, aging, and Alzheimer's disease. Front Biosci. E4, 976-997.
8. Barron AM, Verdile G, Taddei K, Bates KA, Martins RN. (2010). Effect of chronic hCG administration on Alzheimer's-related cognition and Abeta accumulation in PS1KI mice. Endocrinol. 151:5380-5388.
9. Pike CJ, Carroll JC, Rosario ER, Barron AM. (2009). Protective actions of sex steroid hormones in Alzheimer's disease. Front Neuroendocrinol. 30 (2): 106-118.
10. Barron AM, Fuller SJ, Verdile G, Martins RN. (2006). Reproductive hormones modulate oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s disease. Antiox Redox Signal. 8(11-12): 2047-2059.