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PhD Candidate
Department of Anatomy
Research summary
Effects of disease processes and neuroprotective treatments on exosome cargo in Alzheimer’s Disease
Emerging Researcher’s Group (Brain Health Research Centre)


Exosomes, nano-sized vesicles secreted by all cells in the body, are postulated to play a role in spreading Alzheimer's Disease (AD) pathology throughout the brain. Exosomes are under intense investigation as potential biomarkers to allow early diagnosis of AD, due to the ease of isolating brain-derived vesicles from the bloodstream, and the finding that the contents of exosomes significantly differ between AD patients and healthy controls.

My research uses cell culture techniques to investigate how exosome cargo changes in response to application of amyloid-β, a key instigator of AD pathology, as well as how treatment with the neuroprotective proteins secreted Amyloid Precursor Protein alpha (sAPPα) and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) might beneficially alter exosome cargo. Importantly, this research will also investigate whether the 'disease-propogation' potential of exosomes extends to an ability to spread beneficial substances, such as sAPPα and BDNF, throughout the brain.


Chu, A. J. (2023). The effects of secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha on rodent astrocytes and directly reprogrammed human induced neuron-like cells (PhD). University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Retrieved from Awarded Doctoral Degree

Chu, A. J., & Williams, J. M. (2022). Astrocytic microRNA in ageing, inflammation, and neurodegenerative disease. Frontiers in Physiology, 12, 826697. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.826697 Journal - Research Article

Chu, A. J., Connor, B., & Williams, J. M. (2021, September). Developing novel therapeutics for Alzheimer's disease in Aotearoa: Effects of secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha on astrocytes and reprogrammed human neural cultures. Poster session presented at the Achieving Health Equity from Research Conference [Otago Spotlight Series], Wellington, New Zealand. Conference Contribution - Poster Presentation (not in published proceedings)

Chu, A. J., Peppercorn, K., Tate, W. P., Erlandsson, A., & Williams, J. M. (2019). Secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha enhances amyloid-beta protofibril degradation in primary murine astrocytes. Proceedings of the 39th Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS) Annual Scientific Meeting. 12828. Retrieved from Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

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