Genetic Variation Makes Women More Susceptible to Alzheimer's
HOST: New research out of Stanford University shows that a genetic mutation linked to Alzheimer's disease may affect women differently than men. The findings give scientists new ways to study the disease, which afflicts about 5 million Americans.
AMY STANDEN: For two decades, scientists have known there's a connection between Alzheimer's disease and a genetic variation called APOE4: about half of Alzheimer's patients carry the APO-E4 variation.
But despite earlier work suggesting that risk differs between women and men, scientists rarely separate Alzheimer's cases by gender, says Mike Greicius, an assistant professor of neurology at Stanford and medical director of the Stanford Center for Memory Disorders.
MIKE GREICIUS: One of the big issues with genetic studies is you need large sample sizes, and so researchers are sort of loath to divide their sample size in half when you want to split by gender.
STANDEN: In making that split, a difference appears: Greicius and his team found that women who inherited one APOe4 variation were more likely than men to exhibit early signs, or biomarkers, of the disease.
GREICIUS: We think this may be one contributing factor to why women appear to be more prone to Alzheimer's disease than men.
STANDEN: Men with a single APOE4 variation may need to worry less about Alzheimer’s, says Greicius. And scientists have new clues for understanding how genetics and gender interact.
The research appears in the June 13th issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.