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King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter

Cholesterol control gene could provide dementia protection

18 January 2010

By Alison Cranage

Appeared in BioNews 541

American scientists have found that a genetic variation could be associated with slower memory decline and a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The preliminary findings shed light on processes in the brain that could contribute to memory loss and dementia. The work was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week.

The study involved 523 participants who took psychological and cognitive tests over four years. During the study 40 people developed dementia. The researchers found that a specific variant, or allele, of the cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) gene was associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's. People with the variant also declined more slowly in the cognitive tests than those without.

Dr Amy Sanders, who led the study at the Einstein College of Medicine, New York, said: 'We found that people with two copies of the longevity variant of CETP had slower memory decline and a lower risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease. More specifically, those participants who carried two copies of the favourable CETP variant had a 70 per cent reduction in their risk for developing Alzheimer's disease compared with participants who carried no copies of this gene variant'.

The CETP gene was previously found to be associated with longevity, and these new findings suggest that it could have a role to play in cognitive function. CETP is involved in the control of the size of cholesterol particles in the body. Other studies have suggested that cholesterol processing could be involved in Alzheimer's, although the exact causes of the disease are unknown.

Most cases of Alzheimer's are not directly inherited from one generation to the next and it is likely that many genes, together with lifestyle factors and life events, cause Alzheimer's. 700,000 people in the UK have dementia, with about two thirds of those cases caused by Alzheimer's disease. Within a generation, as the population ages, it is estimated that there will be 1.4 million people living with dementia. With no cure or effective treatments at the moment, it is hoped that more research like this into the genetics of the disease will help researchers understand its causes, and lead the way to developing new treatments.



15 October 2012 - by Maria Sheppard 
Twenty-one genes linked with cholesterol and other fat levels in the blood have been identified by a consortium of over 180 researchers worldwide.... [Read More]
27 September 2010 - by Alison Cranage 
US scientists have identified a gene which they suggest is associated with Alzheimer's and could help uncover the causes of the disease.... [Read More]

19 January 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher 
A team from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Florida, US, has discovered a new gene variant that seems to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. The discovery is the first evidence of gender-specific risk factor for the disease because the variant is on... [Read More]
03 November 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
A study examining the genomes of more than 1,300 families has revealed four new genes potentially linked to the most common late-onset form of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics last week. The researchers, based at the Massachusetts General... [Read More]
21 July 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
Two groups of scientists have identified a gene which, when faulty or missing, causes a common type of dementia. Teams based at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, US, and the University of Antwerp in Belgium report that mutations affecting the progranulin gene cause familial frontotemporal... [Read More]
22 April 2003 - by BioNews 
Two teams of scientists have identified the genetic cause of progeria, a rare premature ageing condition. Their findings could lead to a new treatment for the disease, and could also provide insights into the normal ageing process. The researchers, based at the National Human Genome Research Institute, US, and the... [Read More]

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