Digital Public Defence: Nathalie Bodd Halaas Nathalie Bodd Halaas at Institute of Clinical Medicine will be defending the thesis “Neurodegeneration in the ageing brain - Novel AD-related biomarkers in delirium and cognitively unimpaired older adults” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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Photo: Audun Bodd Halaas

The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.

The defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.

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Download Zoom here

Due to copyright reasons, an electronic copy of the thesis must be ordered from the faculty. In order for the faculty to have time to process the order, it must be received by the faculty no later than 2 days prior to the public defence. Orders received later than 2 days before the defence will not be processed. Inquiries regarding the thesis after the public defence must be addressed to the candidate.

Digital Trial Lecture – time and place

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Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Professor Barbara van Munster, The University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), The Netherlands
  • Second opponent: Senior Lecturerer, Associate Professor Niklas Mattson-Carlgren, Lund University, Sweden
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Mathias Toft, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Associate Professor Espen Saxhaug Kristoffersen, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Researcher Leiv Otto Watne, Oslo University Hospital


Delirium is a common and serious syndrome characterized by acute disturbances in attention, awareness, and cognition. Dementia is a major risk factor for delirium, and delirium increases the risk of dementia progression or development. The mechanisms underlying this relationship are poorly understood, but old age is a common denominator for both conditions. The aim of this thesis was to increase our understanding of the relationship between age, delirium and dementia in the brain, by exploring their association with novel cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood biomarkers. In previous studies, the three examined biomarkers (neurofilament light (NFL), neurogranin and sTREM2) have been shown to increase in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common cause of dementia. Three patient cohorts with available CSF samples were studied in this thesis: demented and non-demented hip fracture patients with and without delirium, cognitively unimpaired older adults and patients with AD. 

We found evidence in support of shared pathophysiological mechanisms in brain ageing, delirium and dementia. First, CSF and blood neurofilament light were associated with delirium, suggesting that neuroaxonal injury may be involved in delirium pathophysiology, and that blood NFL may be a valuable and accessible biomarker in future delirium studies. In addition, we found that CSF sTREM2, a marker of brain immune cell (microglia) activation, may predict brain shrinkage on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in older adults. This indicates that neuroinflammation may be of importance in brain ageing. On the other hand, changes in neurogranin, a postsynaptic marker that specifically increases in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, were not detected in delirium.

Additional information

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Published Jan. 7, 2022 9:51 AM - Last modified Jan. 20, 2022 10:51 AM