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A maternal link to Alzheimer's disease
Date:11/6/2007

New York, Nov. 6, 2007 People who have a mother with Alzheimers disease appear to be at higher risk for getting the disease than those individuals whose fathers are afflicted, according to a new study by NYU School of Medicine researchers.

The study is published in this weeks online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is the first to compare brain metabolism among cognitively normal people who have a father, a mother, or no relatives with Alzheimers disease, and to show that only individuals with an affected mother have reduced brain metabolism in the same brain regions as Alzheimers patients.

Over the last two decades a number of studies have shown that people with the disease have significant reductions in brain energy metabolism in certain regions of the brain. In some recent research studies these reductions are evident in healthy people years before symptoms of dementia emerge.

The researchers wanted to evaluate people with a family history of Alzheimers because that is one of the biggest risk factors for the disease. Alzheimers affects more than 5 million Americans and is the most common form of senile dementia. People with an affected parent have a 4- to 10-fold higher risk compared to individuals with no family history. It isnt known why people with a family history are more susceptible to the disease.

Likewise, it isnt known why individuals with a history of the disease on their mothers side are at increased risk for Alzheimers, and this observation must be replicated in larger studies before it could be of use in the clinic to perhaps identify people who may be more vulnerable to the disease, says Lisa Mosconi, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, who led the new study. She speculates that genes that are maternally inherited might alter brain metabolism.

The new study involved 49 cognitively normal individuals, from 50 to 80 y
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Contact: Pamela McDonnell
Pamela.McDonnell@nyumc.org
212-404-3555
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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