Rohn's laboratory is involved in the research involving neurodegenerative diseases including to a large extent, Alzheimer’s disease (AD). During the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, many neurons die particularly in the area of the hippocampus. Because the hippocampus is an area of the brain involved in memory, AD is primary a disease where afflicted individuals lose their capacity for memory.
Currently, Rohn and team are investigating whether caspase-cleavage of APOE4 underlies its pathogenesis in AD. The APOE4 allele, if inherited, greatly increases the risk of AD, but how it contributes to disease progression is not known. This protein may be susceptible to proteolytic cleavage by proteases and this inactivates the ability of this protein to function properly in the brain. This could contribute to disease progression by allowing for the accumulation of the toxic protein, beta-amyloid, that is normally removed from the brain, in part by functional APOE4. Rohn's lab has recently been awarded an NIH grant to investigate this hypothesis.
Rohn's lab also has an interest in other neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s, Pick’s, frontal temporal dementia, Down’s syndrome and vascular dementia.