Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name



Biomedical Sciences

Faculty Mentor

Amy R. Nelson


Mike T. Lin, Robin J. Mockett, Troy Stevens


After pulmonary infections such as pneumonia from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and COVID-19, a decrease in cognitive function has been witnessed like that of Alzheimer's disease. One contributing factor to Alzheimer's disease is the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, causing neurodegeneration and reactivity of glial cells. Two of the cell types that support the blood-brain barrier include astrocytes and microglia. Phosphorylated tau is another hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. To visualize the effects of lung infection on glia, mice were infected with a strain of P. aeruginosa, and slices of the brain were stained using immunohistochemistry. There was increased glial-specific fluorescence in the brains of the infected mice, suggesting reactivity of the glia. The effects of pulmonary infection on the density of neurons and axons were also visualized. It was seen that there was no change in the density of neurons or axons at 24 hours, but a significant decrease in neuronal density at 48 hours only in the cortex. Changes in the concentration of phosphorylated tau were also visualized. We observed an increased trend in tau tangles in the hippocampus and cortex at 24 hours post-infection but no significant change 48 hours after pulmonary infection. These findings may lead to novel understanding of how pulmonary infection contributes to Alzheimer's disease.


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Available for download on Saturday, May 05, 2029