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Alzheimer's Risk Looks Higher if Mom Had the Disease
Date:2/28/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) -- A new study adds more weight to research showing the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease is greater if your mother, rather than your father, had the disorder.

Brain scans of adult children of people with Alzheimer's found more shrinkage in key brain regions of those whose mothers had the disease than in those whose fathers had it, the researchers report. Brain shrinkage is a characteristic of the age-related disorder.

"It's consistent with other studies that suggest there is something inherited from mothers that influences risk more so than what is passed down through fathers," said senior study author Dr. Jeffrey Burns, an associate professor of neurology at University of Kansas Medical Center.

Alzheimer's disease has a strong inherited component, according to background information in the study. Those whose parents had the disease are four to 10 times more likely to get the disease themselves.

In the study, researchers created three-dimensional maps, using a technology called voxel-based morphometry, of the brains of 53 people aged 60 and older. Eleven had a mother with Alzheimer's, 10 had a father with Alzheimer's and the rest had no family history of the disease.

None of the participants had dementia when they were recruited, nor did they show the signs of mental decline that can be an early indicator of the disease, researchers said.

After two years, people whose mothers had Alzheimer's had twice the amount of gray matter atrophy, or shrinkage, in brain regions known to be affected by Alzheimer's compared to those with a paternal history or no family history of the disease. The regions included the parahippocampal gyrus and the precuneus.

Those with a maternal history of Alzheimer's also had one and a half times more loss in whole brain volume each year compared to those with a paternal history or no family
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