June 8, 2018
Multiple genes are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Some are linked to early-onset Alzheimer’s, a condition that develops in one’s 30s, 40s and 50s, while others are associated with the more common late-onset form of the disease.
Eventually, all Alzheimer’s patients develop dementia, and their brain cells die. But not all genes linked to the disease contribute to damage in the same way, and understanding the various ways specific genes lead to damage is important to developing potential treatments to prevent or halt Alzheimer’s.
To that end, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that the types of brain cells damaged by the disease vary, depending on the genes involved.
Their findings are published June 8 in the journal Genome Medicine.
“Different genes contribute to Alzheimer’s damage in different ways, and we are working to identify therapeutic targets to prevent that damage,” said senior investigator Carlos Cruchaga, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry. “Alzheimer’s always leads to neuronal death, but we might identify better targets for therapy if we know how various genes lead to damage.”
The researchers analyzed brain samples from deceased patients with rare and common forms of Alzheimer’s. The tissue banks also included samples from people who did not have the disorder.