Image for post
Image for post

Alzheimer’s risk climbs close to parent’s age of onset

Futurity News
Feb 28, 2018 · 2 min read

If you’re about to turn 60 and know your mother has had Alzheimer’s disease since 65, at what age will the disease strike you?

A new study in JAMA Neurology shows that the closer a person get to the age at which their parent exhibited the first signs of Alzheimer’s, the more likely they are to have amyloid plaques in the brain, the cause of the cognitive decline associated with the disease.

In this study involving a cohort of 101 individuals, researcher Sylvia Villeneuve, an assistant professor at McGill University and a core faculty member at The Neuro’s McConnell Brain Imaging Centre, shows that the difference between a person’s age and the age of their parent at the onset of the disease is a more important risk factor than their actual age.

“A 60-year-old whose mother developed Alzheimer’s at age 63 would be more likely to have amyloid plaques in their brain than a 70-year-old whose mother developed the disease at age 85,” explains Villeneuve, also of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal.

Her team of scientists also found that the genetic impact of Alzheimer’s disease is much greater than previously thought.

“Upon examining changes in the amyloid biomarker in the cerebrospinal fluid samples from our subjects, we noticed that this link between parental age and amyloid deposits is stronger in women than in men. The link is also stronger in carriers of the ApoE4 gene, the so-called ‘Alzheimer’s gene,’” says Villeneuve.

Related: Algorithm warns two years before dementia begins

The researcher and her team successfully duplicated their results in two independent groups, one consisting of 128 individuals from a Washington University in St. Louis cohort, the other consisting of 135 individuals from a University of Wisconsin-Madison cohort. They also reproduced their results using an imaging technique that shows amyloid plaques directly in the brains of living persons.

Their study is paving the way for the development of inexpensive methods for the early identification of people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Grants from a Canadian research chair, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Canadian Brain Research Fund, the Alzheimer Society of Canada, and the Fonds de recherche du Québec — Santé supported the work.

Source: Bruno Geoffrey for CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal/McGill University

Original Study DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.5135

Find more research news at

Futurity News

Research news from top universities

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store