Study: Women at Higher Genetic Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

[Leslie Carol Botha: Am sure this higher risk of genetic Alzheimer’s disease in women is somehow related to hormones. The study is the first step in understanding the underlying neurology of this disease.]

Women Have Higher Genetic Risk of Alzheimer’s

MedPage Today
By Michael Smith, North American Correspondent, MedPage Today
Published: June 15, 2012
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner

A major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease – the E4 variant of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene — manifests itself more often in women than in men, researchers reported.

In a cohort of cognitively healthy older men and women, carrying the E4 variant was associated with deficits in brain connectivity in women, but not in men, according to Michael Greicius, MD, of the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif., and colleagues.

The sex difference was also apparent, in a separate cohort, in levels of the Alzheimer’s-associated protein tau in cerebrospinal fluid, Greicius and colleagues reported in the June 13 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

It has long been known that more women than men will eventually develop the disease, and the new findings may help explain why, Greicius said in a statement.

“This disparate impact of ApoE4 status on women versus men might account for a big part of the skewed gender ratio,” he said.

It might also have implications for prognosis, he and colleagues noted, in that men who carry the E4 variant should not be assumed to be at higher than normal risk of Alzheimer’s.

Greicius and colleagues conducted functional-connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) on 131 healthy people, with a median age of 70, to examine connections in the brain’s so-called default mode network.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.