A team researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) has found that people who have parents diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia are significantly more likely than others to experience memory loss.
The study found that this is true even in middle-aged persons who do not have a diagnosis of clinical stroke or dementia.
AdvertisementFor the study, researchers studied 715 participants (372 women, 343 men) of Framingham Heart Study (FHS) (average age 59) using standardized cognitive tests and MRI brain scans.
One group of 282 persons had one or both parents fulfilling standardized criteria for a diagnosis of dementia, the other group of 433 persons had parents who were known to be free of dementia.
The researchers also tested all these individuals for a gene thought to be a strong risk factor for dementia, called the ApoE e4 gene.
Among persons who were carriers of the ApoE e4 gene, those who had parents with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia scored significantly worse on tests of verbal memory and visual memory than persons who did not have parents with Alzheimer's dementia.
"Parental dementia and Alzheimer's disease were significantly associated with poorer performance in verbal and visual memory tasks," said senior author Sudha Seshadri, MD, associate professor of neurology and co-director of the Medical Education for Neurology Residency Program at Boston University School of Medicine.
Researchers further concluded that the result in persons with parents who have Alzheimer's disease is equivalent to approximately 15 years of brain aging.
The effect was largely limited to those study participants who have the ApoE e4 gene, which supports the idea that the gene is probably at least partially responsible for the transmission of Alzheimer's disease risk between generations.
This study will be presented at a Plenary Session at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, Wash from April 25 - May 2.