HDR Confirmation Seminar: Laura Pernoud - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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HDR Confirmation Seminar: Laura Pernoud

We would like to invite you to attend the HDR Confirmation Seminar of Laura Pernoud, a Doctor of Philosophy candidate in the School of Health and Behavioural Sciences. If you are external to USC and wish to participate via Zoom, please contact ASURE@usc.edu.au.

Thesis Title:

Changes in Inflammation, Body Composition and Cognition Across the Stages of Reproductive Ageing.


Dementia is an umbrella term encompassing a multitude of neurodegenerative conditions that underpin the abnormal decline in cognitive function. Multifactorial influences at mid-life including genetic, environmental, cultural, and modifiable lifestyle factors have been implicated in the pathogenesis of dementia later in life. In particular, the pathological state of overweight and obesity elicits the prolonged activation of peripheral pro-inflammatory cytokines, a state which further exacerbates the risk of cognitive decline and dementia later in life. An increase in unfavourable risk factors in mid-life are especially important to consider in ageing women, where the onset of menopause coincides with declines in oestrogen production, pathological changes in body composition, and increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. As such, dementia has been established to disproportionately affect women, accounting for 9, 592 deaths in women compared to 5, 424 of men in Australia (2019). Initially, the increased burden of dementia in women was attributed to a longer average lifespan, however, it has recently been demonstrated that the menopausal transition and the associated increase in modifiable risk factors at mid-life may contribute to dementia pathology later in life. As such, the detrimental changes that occur throughout mid-life as women approach menopause and beyond, may explain the disparity between sex in dementia morbidity. However, there is a lack of clear evidence to identify the potential associations between menopause, inflammation, body composition and cognitive function in women at midlife, thus further investigations are warranted. Furthermore, significant limitations in the classification of menopause status in a research setting, limits the current understanding of menopause-associated changes in mid-life risk factors. Therefore, the purpose of the proposed thesis is to: a) Investigate correlations between inflammation, body composition and cognition in women before, during and after menopause and b) Design and validate a questionnaire with biochemical markers of ovarian aging (FSH and oestradiol) to improve inconsistencies in the classification of the stages of reproductive aging. This series of studies will improve the current gaps in knowledge around the interrelated changes between menopause status, body composition, elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines, and cognitive function in women before, during and after menopause.