Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gene Variations in Alzheimer's Show Racial Variations, Study Finds

Many of the same genes associated with increased risk for Alzheimer's disease among people of European ancestry are also present in African Americans, but effect sizes vary between the two groups, according to a study of thousands of individuals published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers led by Richard Mayeux, M.D., M.Sc., a professor of neurology, psychiatry, and epidemiology at Columbia University, studied data from 1,968 African Americans with Alzheimer's disease and 3,928 control subjects. The most significant gene associated with the disorder was APOE, a previously well-known risk factor. However, another gene called ABCA7 produced a greater effect in African Americans than in non-Hispanic whites (odds ratio = 1.79), said Mayeux and colleagues.

Like APOE, ABCA7 is involved in lipid metabolism. It also influences the transport of amyloid precursor protein, another risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease. If replicated, these findings may eventually help direct future research into the causes or management of the illness.

To read more in Psychiatric News about biomarkers for Alzheimer disease and the hunt for new treatments, click here and here. Also see the American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Alzheimer Disease and Other Dementias here.

(Image: 02Lab/


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