Gene Reduces Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

A new study reports that people who carry two copies of the favorable form of the gene have a 70 percent reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  According to researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City drugs that mimic the activity of the gene variant already are being developed. 

Researchers had identified a variant of the gene for cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP) — involved in carrying cholesterol in the bloodstream — as being associated with a longer life span. They note that the longer you live, the more common is the favorable variant.  The incidence is 5 percent at age 50 and 35 percent at age 95. 

The new study followed over 500 people, all age 70 or older, for four years, testing their mental function and relating it to the variant of the CETP gene they carried.  Participants who carried two copies of the variant gene experienced an age-related decline in mental function that was about half as rapid as people with two normal versions of the gene, the study found. 

Individuals with two copies of the favorable CETP variant also had a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to those with two normal versions of the gene, the study found.  Researchers note that the gene is a a great candidate for further research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 

According to the researchers, the CETP gene variant was first identified in a population of Ashkenazi Jews, descendents of western and central Europeans. The current study was done among an ethnically diverse population of people living in the Bronx who have been followed for 25 years.

 The findings were reported in the Jan. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

Reported by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the national trade organization that tracks news related to long term health care issues.

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