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Moms With Alzheimer's May Pass on Risk to Kids
Date:7/30/2008

The genetic link isn't there for fathers, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- People whose mothers have had Alzheimer's disease may be predisposed to the mind-robbing condition, a new study finds.

The link may be a dysfunction in how the brain handles sugar -- something that's probably genetic and starts years before symptoms of Alzheimer's appear, researchers say.

"Overall, these findings show that their brains are not working properly to start with, and the metabolic impairment gets worse over time," explained lead researcher Lisa Mosconi, a research assistant professor of psychiatry at the Center for Brain Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

There is evidence that having a parent affected with Alzheimer's disease increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease four- to tenfold, Mosconi said. "However, we don't know why or how this happens. Our study shows for the first time that individuals with an Alzheimer's disease [-affected] mother may be at increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease themselves because their brains are not utilizing glucose in an effective way," she said.

The findings were to be presented Wednesday at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago.

For the study, Mosconi's team used PET scans to look at glucose metabolism in the brains of 66 healthy individuals. Some of the participants had a family history of Alzheimer's disease, and some did not.

The researchers found that people with a mother with Alzheimer's had a much faster progressive reduction in the use of glucose in areas of the brain affected by the disease, compared with people who had a father with Alzheimer's or parents without the disease.

"At this point, we can only speculate that genes that are maternally inherited may alter brain metabolism," Mosconi said. "We need to follow subjects for lon
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