Thematic Area 2: Cohorts

TA 2: Population-based studies of food intake and food patterns, and brain structure and function across the life-span

How does the diet influence the development of the brain across the life-span?

We investigate the association between dietary habits and the development and functioning of the brain in childhood and adolescents. For this purpose novel dietary assessment methods and cognitive functioning tests will be implemented in existing and newly planned cohort studies. The mechanism of the effect of diet on brain development-/functioning, will be studied by investigating inflammation, metabolic status, dietary biomarkers such as fatty acid profiles. To find out what mechanisms diet can have its effect on brain development and maintenance, TA 2 will explore this through focusing on possible, hypothesized mechanisms, e.g. inflammation, metabolic status. On the other hand the scientists will use nutritional biomarkers, e.g. fatty acid profiles, to more specifically explore possible causal mechanisms. This key research area is closely linked to the work of TA1, TA4, and TA5, and will interact with the intervention studies planned in TA3, especially through the JRG.

Maintenance, extension, and coordination of diet-related research in the Rhineland Study

With the assessments of food intake, developed by TA1, raised in the core protocol of the Rhineland Study. This added data-collection will support many of the other WPs, including research linking dietary intake to cognitive and brain outcomes, genetics, preferences and biomarker discovery (WP1.3; WP2.2; WP2.4; WP2.5; WP4.3; WP4.5; WP5.1). During the 2nd funding period, continued data collection will provide the basis for more comprehensive and longitudinal analyses to determine: 1) the impact of specific dietary patterns on brain-related health outcomes; 2) metabolomic and other biomarkers that can identify and quantify the mechanisms through which diet impacts brain health; and 3) other factors that interact with diet to determine nutritional status and its impact on brain health (e.g., physical activity, body composition and fat distribution, genetics) across the lifespan.

Relationship between dietary patterns in childhood and adolescence, and cognition in later childhood, adolescence and early adult life

WP2.2 will continue to analyze associations between dietary intake and cognition and will expand to analyses of lifestyle patterns. Our hypothesis is that there is a favourable lifestyle pattern (e.g. higher physical activity level) and dietary pattern in children linked with better cognitive performance in fluid intelligence. Furthermore we will investigate associations of iodine (repeated measurement during childhood and adolescence) and hippuric acid with cognition in childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Dietary pattern in adult life: the Rhineland Study

WP2.3 will focus on potential interactions between diet and physical activity; measures of general and abdominal obesity (based on body composition and fat distribution), genetics, and the gut microbiome composition on cognitive function and brain health outcomes. Therefore a cross-sectional analysis will be perfomed and the data collected will be analysed by the triaxal accelerometer. Additional they will investigate the link between dietary intake/pattern and gut microbiome composition in relation to brain health in these subjects. The hypothesis is, that high/low adherence to the Mediterranean Diet or MIND Diet will affect the composition of the gut microbiota and microbial metabolites. Selected dietary factors (e.g. fatty acids, fiber) will affect the composition of the gut microbiota and microbial metabolites.

Dietary pattern in high-risk groups/populations: the DELCODE Study and ENERGI Study

ENERGI is a new DZNE-based study that is being conducted at two sites (Bonn and Magdeburg). The study includes non-demented study participants aged 65-75 years who are at increased metabolic risk for AD. As in DELCODE, all subjects undergo PET and fMRI examinations.

Both studies will: a) examine associations between dietary intake/patterns and selected nutrients (DHA, vitamin D) and amyloid pathology of the brain among elderly subjects; and (b) test whether dietary patterns are associated with the cognitive-functional consequences of AD pathology or AD risk (ApoE4 allele).

Research questions and objectives

O2.1 To maintain and develop resources established during the first funding period for long- term state-of-the art population-based research into the impact of diet on cognitive development and maintenance across the lifespan.

O2.2 To determine how interactions between dietary patterns and lifestyle factors such as physical activity impact cognition and brain health outcomes across the lifespan.

O.2.3 To investigate the mechanisms through which diet exerts its effect on cognition and brain function across the lifespan in specific population subgroups by examining the role of metabolites and metabolite profiles, fatty acids, and the gut microbiome. This will facilitate the formulation of targeted nutritional recommendations.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Monique M. B. Breteler (coordination)
Population and Health Sciences
German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)

Sigmund-Freud-Str. 27
D-53127 Bonn
Ph. +49 228 43302 929

Prof. Dr. Ute Nöthlings
Institute of Nutritional and Food Sciences
Nutritional Epidemiology
Faculty of Agriculture
University of Bonn

Endenicher Allee 19b
D-53115 Bonn
Ph. +49 228 73 60490
Fax +49 228 73 60493

Prof. Dr. Frank Jessen
Clinic Research
German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)

Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
University Hospital Cologne

Kerpener Strasse 62
50937 Köln
Ph. +49 (0) 221 / 478-4010

Prof. Dr. Michael Wagner
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
University Hospital of Bonn

Sigmund-Freud-Straße 25
D-53105 Bonn