A new study has suggested that a person is more likely to inherit Alzheimer's disease from his/her mother than his/her father.
In general, people who have first-degree relatives with Alzheimer's disease are four to 10 times more likely to develop the disease than people with no family history of Alzheimer's disease, according to researchers from the University of Kansas School of Medicine.
Robyn Honea and his colleagues looked at 53 people, aged 60 and above, without dementia for a period of two years.
Eleven participants said their mothers had Alzheimer's, 10 reported a father with the illness, and 32 said they had no family history of the condition.
Throughout the course of the study, all participants underwent cognitive testing and brain scans.
The researchers found that those whose mothers had Alzheimer's showed twice as much shrinkage of gray matter in their brains - which is a symptom of the disease - as those with a father who had Alzheimer's and those with no family history.
Furthermore, participants whose mother had Alzheimer's disease had one-and-a-half times more shrinkage of the entire brain than those whose fathers had the disease.
"Using 3-D mapping methods, we were able to look at the different regions of the brain affected in people with maternal or paternal ties to Alzheimer's disease," said Honea.
"In people with a maternal family history of the disease, we found differences in the break-down processes in specific areas of the brain that are also affected by Alzheimer's disease, leading to shrinkage. Understanding how the disease may be inherited could lead to better prevention and treatment strategies," she added.
The study is published in the current issue of Neurology.