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Carriers With Alzheimer's High Risk Gene Type Age Normally Until the Disease Strikes

Researchers from Australia have come to the conclusion that a high risk genotype that raises the chances for Alzheimer's disease, does not add changes in the carrier//, pertaining to communication skills and memory during most of their adulthood. Those with the high risk gene seem to get affected by dementia, only much later in old age, along with other factors.

The study, has been described as the largest of its kind. This research unearthed that both carriers and non-carriers seem to age normally in the same pattern with similar decline in cognitive function over the years. Decades later, carriers show up with symtoms of aging that begin to snowball into pronounced symptoms of dementia. The findings imply that the genotype which promotes risk of developing this degenerative disorder plays a role much later. The findings are published in the January issue of Neuropsychology, by the American Psychological Association (APA).

The study may help rule out the possibility of very early Alzheimer's as the cause of the decline among carriers before they reach old age,write the authors, "[Alzheimer's disease] processes may occur later in the lifespan and add to normal cognitive aging to produce a dementia syndrome." The study confirmed that carriers of the APOE4 gene type (allele), which confers higher risk for Alzheimer's, are just like other people their age throughout most of adult life in terms of core mental functions. Previous findings had been unclear. Lead author Anthony Jorm, PhD, DSc, explains, "Although some areas of cognitive decline begin from early adulthood onwards, this is not due – as some have speculated -- to very early Alzheimer's changes in the brain."

The APOE gene helps to transport cholesterol through the production of apolipoprotein E. People carry two copies of APOE, each being one of four APOE alleles. APOE4 raises Alzheimer's risk. In this study, researchers at the University of Melbourne and Australian Nation
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