In families with a history of Alzheimer’s disease, memory disorders are likely to appear very early, even in the twenties.
Is it possible to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, ie memory problems, in young people with a family history? This is the case with a new study published in the eLife magazine. Led by researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a subsidiary of City of Hope, and the University of Arizona, the study claims that people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease because of antecedents families could have memory deficits as early as their twenties.
Affecting approximately 5.7 million people in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease is an age-related neurodegenerative disease that affects brain function, particularly memory, attention and language. The most common form of age-related dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is still, for the moment, an incurable disease. Hence the need to better detect the first indicators of the disease to prevent dementia in people at risk, even if they are still young.
“In this study, we show that family history is associated with a decrease in learning performance associated with twinning up to four decades before the typical onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Matt Huentelman, professor of neurogenomics at TGen and lead author of this study.
The study covered 59,571 participants aged 18 to 85 at the time they started in 2013. The data was collected using an online word pair memory test called MindCrowd., one of the most important scientific assessments in the world of the healthy functioning of the brain.
By analyzing the data collected, the researchers found that people with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease and who are under 65 years old did not perform as well as their peers. Among those most at risk are men, as well as people with low levels of education, those with diabetes, or carriers of a genetic variant of ApoE, a gene associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s.
“This study supports recommendations emphasizing the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle and treating diseases such as diabetes,” said Dr. Joshua Talboom, co-author of the study. “Our findings particularly highlight the positive effects of such interventions for those with a family history of risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, paving the way for the development of more targeted risk-reduction approaches to combat the disease,” he concluded.