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OnderzoekToponderzoekMaatschappelijke thema'sHealthy AgeingNatural SciencesHealthy ageing mechanisms in behavior and neurosciences

Health care interventions

Different forms of exercise to improve cognition in aging .
prof. dr. EA (Eddy) van der Zee , prof. dr. ULM (Ulrich) Eisel

Exercise is currently recognized as a primary intervention to prevent or slow down aging-related decline of cognitive performance. However, not much is known about the most effective form of exercise, and the required duration (number of minutes per day, how many days per week, etc) in relation to either healthy brain aging or in case of patients with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. In this project we study the impact of various forms of exercise in different mouse models for risk factors for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In close collaboration with the clinic, emphasis will be on the translational value of the findings towards patients of different ages and different stages of the disease.

Collaboration of the department of Molecular Neurobiology with the department of Human Movement Sciences, University Medical Center Groningen, (Dr. M.J.G. van Heuvelen), Free University Amsterdam (Prof. dr. E. Scherder), Neurology (Prof. Dr. P.P. de Deyn), and Radboud UMC Nijmegen (Prof. dr. M. OldeRikkert). International collaboration with prof. Dr. C.J. Nyakas, Semmelweis University Budapest, Hongary, and Prof. G. riedel, Aberdeen, Scotland.

Fysieke inspanning, voeding, gezondheid, en veroudering
prof. dr. G. (Gertjan) van Dijk

Te veel en te vet eten in combinatie met snelle suikers is ongezond en kan aanleiding geven tot metabole aandoeningen die lange termijn consequenties kunnen hebben voor de gezondheid en als zodanig veroudering kunnen beïnvloeden. Factoren die mogelijkerwijs uitkomst kunnen bieden zijn a) aanpassing van het dieet, b) meer fysieke inspanning, en c) aanpassing persoonlijkheidsstructuur. Lange termijn interventies hiervan zijn niet bekend en worden onderzocht in langlopend onderzoek (sinds 1995). Een lange termijn onderzoek (start 2010) betreft een unieke samenwerking met het UMCG om in muizen interactie van bovengenoemde factoren op “healthy ageing” te achterhalen gedurende het gehele leven (2-3 jaar) van deze dieren. Dit onderzoek wordt deels uitgevoerd binnen ERIBA en deels binnen de Levenswetenschappen/Linnaeusborg.

Samenwerking met Prof Garland, Riverside, USA, Prof M. Schwartz, University Washington, USA, Prof A Scheurink, CBN, Prof Eisel, CBN, en dr B. Buwalda, CBN.

Vroege programmering van metabole ziekten
prof. dr. G. (Gertjan) van Dijk

Al vroeg in de ontwikkeling (zwangerschap en vroege jeugd) wordt gevoeligheid voor metabole ziekten vastgelegd via epigenetische beïnvloeding. Precieze mechanismen worden onderzocht in proefdieren, en worden getoetst aan uitkomsten van humane studies (in samenwerking met het Groningen Expert Centrum voor Kinderen met Obesitas; GECKO ( Prof P. Sauer, Prof F Kuipers).

The dynamics of light exposure and the impact on alertness in humans
prof. dr. D.G.M. Beersma

The non-visual effects of light in humans are substantial. No matter time of day, sustaining high levels of alertness and performance is much more difficult under dim light conditions than in bright light. While in the past light was thought to be important for visual tasks only, new insights in the characteristics of the non-visual system are beginning to have their impact on specifications of optimal lighting conditions for wellbeing and health. Both fundamental and applied research is needed to define those conditions in humans.

Recent data imply that the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) play a prominent role in the underlying regulatory mechanisms of the non-visual system. These cells, however, do not only respond to the light they perceive themselves, but they also receive input from rods and cones. Because rods and cones have spectral properties different from the ipRGCs, current research focuses on how spectral properties of light exposure influence the downstream processes. Rods and cones, however, do not only differ from the ipRGCs in terms of spectral sensitivity, but also in terms of response dynamics. Adaptation processes are much faster in the classical photoreceptors. In this project, we want to investigate the impact of these differences in adaptation speed on alertness and performance, and study the effects of light exposure varied dynamically in intensity and color composition.

The project is currently carried out by Drs T. Woelders and Dr E.J. Wams, under co-supervision by Dr M.C.M. Gordijn. The study is embedded in the STW-project OnTime, financially supported by STW.

Analysis algorithms for human daily physiology and behavior

Assessment of human behavior and physiology, under ambulant conditions, to determine one’s personal circadian phase, is essential for any chronobiological approach to improvement of health and well-being. Without this measure, personal phase adjustment protocols for social jet-lag reduction, shift work schedule modification, and chronotherapy will be impossible. Masking plagues most datasets, a problem which could be ‘solved’ given enough data to work with. However, until now, the high cost of measuring devices has unfortunately precluded the opportunity to solve this problem. In ONTIME, we will be generating novel, complex datasets describing various behavioral and physiological parameters. Furthermore, our inexpensive devices mean that we will get such information from an unprecedented number of subjects. Here, we take a fresh look at the problem of analyzing ambulant circadian behavior. Partial analysis algorithms will be optimized for ‘on board’ data compression to maximize power efficiency and speed of the newly developed recording devices in collaboration with prof Amft, Eindhoven University.

The project is currently carried out by Dr I.Hoveijn and Dr E.J. Wams. The study is financially supported by STW.

Energy4all; Optimizing light characteristics to boost alertness at all ages
prof. dr. D.G.M. Beersma

Light not only influences vision, but it also affects non-visual processes, such as mood, performance, sleep and alertness, and their systematic changes in the course of the day. Action spectra of light for non-visual aspects are only available for the suppression of the hormone melatonin, which occurs in response to light exposure at night. The complexities of the input pathways suggest that an action spectrum for performance or for alertness may well differ from the melatonin suppression action spectrum. Optimizing light characteristics to give a boost to alertness will improve wellbeing of people from school ages to the elderly. However, with aging the characteristics of the ocular lens, i.e., the entrance of the light input pathway, change in such a way that transmission of short wavelengths is increasingly suppressed. This results in a change in the spectral composition of light that reaches the retina. Adaptation to these changes may occur in healthy young people, but there are indications that the adaptation may attenuate with aging. Non-optimal light patterns in aging people may lead to sleep disorders, decrements in daytime performance and health problems.

The current project aims to measure the action spectra of alertness and performance at different times of the day in young and in older people. The questions to be answered are how time-of-day and aging modulate the amount and spectral composition of light that is needed for optimal daytime functioning and night time sleep. This knowledge will help to develop special luminaires that have the possibility to change their spectral composition with time of day, and it will result in a data driven advice for the use of light to support healthy aging. The luminaires will be constructed and tested in a field experiment.

The project is about to start. The study is financially supported by University Campus Fryslan, RUG, and Philips.

Light Treatment in Human Sleep
prof. dr. D.G.M. Beersma ; dr. M.C.M. Gordijn

This project is part of the research line "human chronobiology" and aims to unravel the optimal parameters of light treatment for circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Sleeping out of phase with the external light-dark cycle, especially late sleep, is a phenomenon in our society that often results in sleep deficits and leads to difficulties in daytime performance and health. A recent analysis of a Dutch survey on sleep habits shows that 18% of the people sleep more than 1h later than average. This means that a large number of people in the population could theoretically benefit from a correction of their timing of sleep. One way to achieve this is by advancing endogenous phase. Light in the early morning is the key to achieve this goal. For a practical and successful correction of the phase of late sleepers, optimal parameters about light exposure timing, duration, intensity and color need to be specified as well as the individual characteristics that will lead to optimal success. This knowledge will be useful to improve treatment of sleep disorders and at the same time fundamental questions will be answered on underlying mechanisms, physiology and behavior.

The project is carried out by Drs M. Geerdink and financially supported by Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Drachten

SSLerate: Accelerate Solid State Lighting Innovation for Europe
prof. dr. D.G.M. Beersma

The aim of SSL-erate is to accelerate the uptake of high-quality SSL technology in Europe by means of open innovation with and by bringing validated information to all relevant stakeholders. A coordinated European effort is required to address the European societal challenges (in particular health & quality of life in an ageing society, energy consumption and resource efficiency), to resolve the specific challenges of the Lighting industry as noted in the results of the Green Paper “Lighting the Future” consultation (notably: poor SSL quality, lack of information and awareness among citizens) and to enable lighting solutions with a societal and environmental sustainability perspective, leading to a future in which Europe evolves to the global leadership in SSL systems and solutions.

The lighting industry is highly fragmented. As a consequence of this the innovation speed and success rate have been too low and the benefits that we all expect from better lighting solutions, do not sufficiently materialize. To overcome this fragmentation, a collaborative way-of-working, using open-innovation and smart specialization principles, will be taken as the guiding approach.

The project is carried out by Dr K.C.H.J. Smolders and supported by FP7-ICT-2013-11.

Are AGEs, as a predictor of increased risk for cardiometabolic syndrome, increased in shift workers?
dr. M.C.M. Gordijn

Living against our biological clock can lead to a decrement of health. In industrialized countries, about 15-30% of the working population is involved in some kind of permanent night and rotating shift work or in intercontinental travel across several time zones. This results in working and eating in the evening or at night, and sleeping during daytime. “Unhealthy food choices” in combination with the fact that food is consumed at a non-optimal circadian phase may explain the higher risk of shift workers for cardiometabolic syndrome.

Early screening of individuals at increased risk of cardiometabolic syndrome is critical for early treatment and/or for taking countermeasures. An indication for average blood glucose levels (glycometabolic stress) over lifetime can be obtained by measuring Advanced Glycation End (AGEs) products (AGEs). AGEs are easily measured by means of skin autofluorescence. This technique, widely established, allows for a non-invasive measurement that has been shown to be a strong predictor of cardiovascular mortality in, for instance, diabetic patients. Given the strong association between shift workers and cardiometabolic impairment we hypothesize that shift workers will show an increment of skin AGEs as compared to non-shift workers. If our hypothesis is proven to be valid, skin autofluorescence may thus be a break through non-invasive methodology to assist populations at risk, such as shift workers.

The aim of this study is to investigate skin AGEs, as a predictor of increased risk for cardiometabolic syndrome, in a shift work population as compared to non-shift workers, to assess its potential as an early assessment of the actual risk for cardiometabolic syndrome in shift work populations.

The project is carried out by Drs. P. Bollen, Dr. M.C.M. Giménez and Dr. M. van de Werken. This study is financially supported by Chrono@Work B.V.

Sleep research for a healthy and sustainable society – it’s about time
dr. T. Kantermann

Sleep is a basic human need and essential for good health, quality of life and performing well during the day. The timing of sleep is regulated by a homeostatic process (sleep pressure increasing with time being awake) and circadian process. The circadian process is synchronised (entrained) to the 24-hour light-dark cycle by its primary zeitgeber light. The relationship between external (social) and internal (biological) time is called phase of entrainment. People that differ in this trait are different chronotypes (e.g. ‘larks’ and ‘owls’). The distribution of chronotypes is almost bell-shaped with the extreme chronotypes at both ends. Modern society ignores that sleep timing is individual, affecting sleep quality and quantity, leading to chronic sleep deprivation, mal-recuperation and long-term ill health. From controlled laboratory studies there is ample evidence showing the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on health and performance, with consequences that would be catastrophic in real life – especially in shift-work occupations. Therefore, to find solutions that respect individual sleep needs, we aim to identify biological & behavioural predictors of sleep loss vulnerability and countermeasures for individual chronotypes living in various environments. Research performed in the framework of the STW funded network ‘OnTime’ dovetails nicely with a recently established project termed ’ChronoCity’ in Bad Kissingen (Germany) (Scientific director: Dr. T. Kantermann), which aims to promote chronobiology research for the benefit of a sustainable society. Because chronobiology, without exception, concerns all humans all of the time, the partners regard it as central and essential to do field research in a closed societal and economic framework, to gather results that are directly applicable to living, education, work, well-being, health, mobility, rehabilitation, healthy ageing, and sleep. Only with such connections are cross-reactions and synergies possible.

Projects carried out by Dr Thomas Kantermann and Giulia Zernini and supported by STW.

Balance maintenance in the elderly via serious gaming
prof. dr. J.B.T.M. Roerdink,

In the context of Healthy Ageing there is a growing need for improving assistance to elderly people in training them to prevent fall incidents. Existing therapies are considered as boring by both patients and therapists. Game technology can play a positive role here. Goal of this project is to realize a tool that (i) motivates elderly people to exercise is an optimal way; (ii) is challenging; (iii) gives direct feedback; and (iv) provides monitoring that can be used by physiotherapists and doctors.

Various ICT techniques play a role here. Graphical techniques are required to develop and implement the game; 3D computer vision techniques are needed to accurately follow the patient; processing and interactive visualization helps to get insight in the large amounts of data that are generated during monitoring.

This is a collaboration of Game Academy (Leeuwarden), the department of Movement Science (RUG), I2Care (RUG), and various other partners, such as Zorginnovatieforum (ZIF). Also, health insurance companies are interested.

This project is carried out within the Center of Research Excellence (CoRE) SPRINT (Smart mobility devices with improved Patient pRosthesis INTeraction – New Medical Devices for Healthy Ageing), clinical/scientific leader: Prof.dr. K. Postema (UMCG), technical/scientific leader: G.J. Verkerke (UMCG/UT).

Laatst gewijzigd:14 juni 2016 10:39