Scientists at the University of Alberta have found that key risk factors for Alzheimer’s affect men and women very differently.
“Two types of Alzheimer’s risk work,” said Mackenzie Heal, a neuroscience master’s student in the Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health graduate program and lead author of the recent study. act differently for men and women, and very differently.
In the large-scale study, the researchers used neuroinformatics to analyze data from 623 Elderly over 44 years of their lives, aged 53 to 97, were drawn from the Victoria Longitudinal Study database.
The researchers looked at two known risk factors for Alzheimer’s—a gene called bridging integrator 1 (BIN1) and blood vessel health, measured by pulse pressure. They then compared a known early symptom, remember the segment decline, in men and women. Episodic memory refers to our recollection of everyday events such as what we ate for breakfast the day before.
“In our study, we found that for everyone, memory decline was negatively impacted by poor vascular health (high blood pressure), explains Heal. “Secondly, for those with BIN1 genetic riskEven good blood pressure cannot protect them from memory loss. And third, for men with a genetic risk of BIN1 as well as poor vascular health, the slopes were much steeper, indicating a sharp decline in memory, whereas for women it was not.”
Women are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s more often
This finding was surprising because women were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s more often than men. There are several reasons for this, one being that women live longer than men, but there are other neurobiological and hormonal changes in middle age that also play a role.
The finding that these two risk factors do not have the same impact on women demonstrates the importance of taking into account differences between men and women when diagnosing and treating Alzheimer’s disease, said Roger Dixon, professor psychology at Heal University. Faculty of Science and NMHI member.
“There is a need for precise health approaches, a different treatment may be needed for one person with a risk profile relative to another, and this has important implications for prevention and treatment.” treat.”
An insidious start
Dixon noted that the researchers looked at 44 years’ worth of data because Alzheimer’s disease has an “insidious onset”.
“That means it starts before we can make a diagnosis. Not only 5 years but 10, 15, 20 years before diagnosis, there are changes in the brain that are the initial signal of the disease.
“One thing that a lot of researchers are doing is aiming to find individuals who are most at risk for Alzheimer’s long before they get it, because once they have the disease, we can’t do nothing more than to alleviate some symptoms.” Dixon said.
The problem is how to identify those at high risk.
“Fortunately, there are some large scale longitudinal study where we track older people and create time-varying trajectories in factors important for Alzheimer’s—and this is where Mackenzie’s paper falls in,” says Dixon.
“We need neuroinformatics and analytics technology that will help us identify the risk combinations that cause the most problems for individuals.”
Another complicating factor is that everyone accumulates some risk factors as they age, and there are many risk factors that can lead to Alzheimer’s, according to Dixon. So there’s no one risk factor that can tell researchers who will get the disease—it’s a combination that plays out over time.
But if they have the right data, they can track and identify who is most at risk, he said.
“There are multiple pathways to Alzheimer’s disease, so the study looked at both genetic risk and vascular health alone and together,” Dixon said. “Several pathways lead to Alzheimer’s disease and some lead to cure. What we’re doing here is finding the subtypes, as determined by these risk factors, and determining which ones are more prevalent. most likely to benefit from what type of risk intervention or risk reduction intervention.”
“We need to be able to determine Risk factors sooner,” Heal added, “because currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study, “Bridging Integrator 1 (BIN1, rs6733839) and Sex Are Moderators of Vascular Health Predictions of Memory Aging Trajectory,” was published in the journal Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Mackenzie Heal et al., Bridged Integrator 1 (BIN1, rs6733839) and Gender as a moderator of vascular health predictions of memory aging trajectories, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2022). DOI: 10.3233/JAD-220334
University of Alberta
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