Genetic studies have confirmed common risk factors between Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease, which could provide targets for therapies, the UC San Diego School of Medicine reported Thursday.
“Our findings indicate that a subset of genes involved with elevated plasma lipid levels and inflammation may also increase the risk for developing (Alzheimer’s),” said Dr. Rahul Desikan, a research fellow and radiology resident at the UCSD School of Medicine.
“Elevated levels of plasma lipids and inflammation can be modified with treatment, which means it could be possible to identify and therapeutically target individuals at increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease who are also at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease,” Desikan said.
Dr. Paul Ridker, a professor at the Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said it’s been known for many years that high levels of cholesterol and high levels of inflammation are associated with increased risks for Alzheimer’s disease.
“The current work finds that specific genetic signals explain a part of these relationships,” Ridker said. “We now need to characterize the function of these genetic signals and see whether they can help us to design better trials evaluating inflammation inhibition as a possible method for Alzheimer’s treatment.”
The study, published in the online issue of the journal Circulation, also identified two genes that had not previously been associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
According to UCSD, 30 million people worldwide suffer from late-onset Alzheimer’s disease — a total that’s expected to quadruple over the next 40 years and bring staggering financial consequences.
Scientists around the U.S. and Europe contributed to the study, which was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Research Council of Norway, the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, Norwegian Health Association and the KG Jebsen Foundation of Bergen, Norway.
— City News Service
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