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Childhood brain function can showcase Alzheimer's risk

March 12, 2018
by I Advance Senior Care
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Genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease may be related to brain function and hippocampal volume in childhood, suggesting a neurodevelopmental origin of the disease, new research suggests.

"We found that the genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease is associated with lower performance in memory tasks even decades before the onset of the disease," Giovanni Salum, MD, PhD, from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil, told Medscape Medical News.

The study was published online March 2 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"Alzheimer's disease is a highly heritable neurodegenerative disease associated with the apolipoprotein E ε4 (APOE-ε4) allele and with several other single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Even though each of these SNPs presents a small effect size, the aggregation of multiple loci may have significant predictive utility," Salum said.

"Previous studies showed associations between polygenic risk score for Alzheimer's disease and both memory decline and lower hippocampal volume in adults. Nevertheless, studies investigating this issue in children and adolescents were lacking," he added.

The researchers studied associations of Alzheimer's polygenic risk score with cognitive abilities and hippocampal volume in two Brazilian samples of children aged 6 to 14 years old — 364 in a discovery cohort, and 352 in a replication cohort. They quantified genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease using summary statistics from the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project.

Read the full story at Medscape Medical News.