25 November 2009

Study into influence on family history and APO 4 gene

Family history, genetic status for apolipoprotein E4, and cognitive decline
Dementia News (Alzheimer’s Australia): 23 November 2009
Two areas of interest in research into dementia are the influences on cognitive decline of a family history of Alzheimer dementia and the possession of a variant of a gene that codes for the production of a form of a protein called apolipoprotein E. (The variant of apolipoprotein E that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease is apolipoprotein E4.)

Researchers from a number of institutions, including Duke University Medical Center, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the University of Colorado, the Utah State University, and the University of Washington, invited residents of Cache County, Utah, who were aged 65 years or older, to participate in a study to examine the relationships between family history, genetic status, and Alzheimer disease. The 2957 participants who took part provided DNA for examination of their apolipoprotein E status and gave detailed family histories of Alzheimer dementia. They also had their cognitive status evaluated with the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination. Cognitive status was reexamined after three years and again after seven years.

At the beginning of the study, those participants with the apolipoprotein E4 genetic variant scored lower on the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination than participants who did not have either apolipoprotein E4 or a family history of Alzheimer dementia.

Those participants who had a family history of Alzheimer disease and the apolipoprotein E4 genetic variant showed faster cognitive faster over the seven-year study than those who did not, but each factor alone did not appear to be associated with cognitive decline. The researchers concluded that much of the apparent association among family history of Alzheimer disease, genetic status for apolipoprotein E4, and cognitive decline may be attributed to disease that had been undetected at the beginning of the study.

Reference: Hayden KM, Zandi PP, West NA, Tschanz JT, Norton MC, Corcoran C, Breitner JCS, Welsh-Bohmer KA. 2009. Effects of Family History and Apolipoprotein E4 Status on Cognitive Decline in the Absence of Alzheimer Dementia: The Cache County Study. Archives of Neurology; 66(11):1378-1383.

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