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Women With Alzheimer's-Linked Gene Show Faster Cell Aging
Date:2/14/2013

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Some women with a gene linked to Alzheimer's disease may have rapidly aging body cells, even when they are in apparently good health, a small study suggests.

On the other hand, researchers found, there were no signs of accelerated cell aging when those same women were on hormone replacement therapy.

It's not clear what can be made of the findings for now, said senior study author Dr. Natalie Rasgon, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine, in California.

Most important, no one can say whether hormone therapy could lower the risk of Alzheimer's, or any other disease, in women who carry the gene variant -- known as ApoE4.

"This is an interesting study that raises more questions than answers," Rasgon said. "It opens avenues for further research."

Everyone carries two copies of the ApoE gene, which is involved in transporting cholesterol and other fats through the bloodstream. There are three main versions, or variants, of the ApoE gene. People who carry at least one copy of the E4 variant have a higher-than-average risk of developing Alzheimer's. About 25 to 30 percent of the population carries an E4 variant, according to the U.S. National Institute on Aging.

In the new study, reported Feb. 13 in the journal PLoS One, Rasgon's team recruited 63 healthy postmenopausal women who were using hormone therapy -- either estrogen alone or a combination of estrogen and progesterone. They randomly assigned the women to either stick with their hormone therapy or stop it for two years.

Of the whole group, 24 were ApoE4 carriers.

The researchers then looked at changes in the women's telomeres -- which are protective caps at the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres shorten as people age, and also because of oxidative stress and inflammation from environmental stressors, su
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