Qi Yuan - Locus coeruleus in the Pathogenesis and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease

Event Details:

Thursday, June 1, 2023
This Event Has Passed
12:00pm to 1:00pm PDT
Event Sponsor
Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute
Add to calendar:

Join us at Gunn Rotunda in the Stanford Neurosciences Building to learn about the latest cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary brain research, from biochemistry to behavior and beyond

Wu Tsai Neuro's weekly seminar series is back to being held in-person since Fall 2022. Masking is strongly encouraged for the health and safety of our community Join the speaker for coffee, cookies, and conversation after the talk

Locus coeruleus in the Pathogenesis and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease


The brainstem locus coeruleus (LC), the main source of brain norepinephrine, is critically involved in several functions including sleep and wakefulness, attention, stress, learning and memory. LC functioning is firing pattern-dependent. Phasic pattern promotes novelty and learning, while high tonic activity associates with stress and anxiety. LC has been identified as a key structure in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) development. Braak and colleagues discovered that soluble abnormally phosphorylated tau (pre-tangle tau) originated in the LC early in life.  The spreading of pre-tangle tau to other neuromodulatory areas and the transentorhinal cortex constitutes Braak’s pre-tangle AD stages, before the onset of neurofibrillary tangles. Pre-tangle stages appear to be universal in humans, however, only a portion of us develop AD. The selective vulnerability of individuals for AD is not well understood. In this talk, I will discuss our established LC pre-tangle tau model in rats which mimics the origin of abnormally phosphorylated tau in humans. Our results showed that LC pre-tangle tau progression generated both preclinical AD pathological changes and cognitive decline in the absence of amyloid. The odor discrimination deficits are similar to human odor deficits seen with aging and preclinical AD. More recently, we have shown that LC neuronal activity patterns differentially influenced pre-tangle tau pathology and cognition. These results argue that variations in environmental experiences associated with differing LC activity patterns may partially account for individual susceptibility to the development of AD in humans. Current research focus on understanding the role of L-type calcium channels in mediating LC neuronal toxicity associated with pretangle tau. 

Qi Yuan

Memorial University of Newfoundland

(Visit lab website)

Dr. Qi Yuan obtained her PhD in Neuroscience at Memorial University in 2003, followed by postdoctoral research at Riken Brain Science Institute and University of California at San Diego. Dr Yuan established her independent research laboratory at Memorial University in 2009 and became a Professor in 2020. Dr. Yuan’s lab uses a combination of long-standing and novel techniques to explore the processes underlying learning and memory, as well as its decline with aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Yuan’s work is supported by Canadian Institute of Health Research and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. 

Hosted by - Amin Shakhawat

About the Wu Tsai Neuro Seminar Series

The Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute seminar series brings together the Stanford neuroscience community to discuss cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary brain research, from biochemistry to behavior and beyond.

Topics include new discoveries in fundamental neurobiology; advances in human and translational neuroscience; insights from computational and theoretical neuroscience; and the development of novel research technologies and neuro-engineering breakthroughs.

Unless otherwise noted, seminars are held Thursdays at 12:00 noon PT.

Sign up to learn about all our upcoming events