Gene Linked To Alzheimer’s Risk In African-Americans

Posted on 4/11/2013 by with 0 comments

Gene Linked To Alzheimer's Risk In African-Americans

Gene Linked To Alzheimer’s Risk In African-Americans

By D.A. Barber

new study found a gene that may significantly help spot the risk for Late-onset Alzheimer Disease (LOAD) in African Americans. What has the researchers scratching their heads is that the same gene has only a mild association with Alzheimer’s disease in individuals of “European ancestry.”

The study, published in the April 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, involved nearly 6,000 African Americans included in a project by the Alzheimer Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC) and led by neurologists from Columbia University Medical Center to identify genetic variants associated with LOAD in African Americans.

“Late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) is the most common cause of dementia, increasing in frequency from 1 percent at age 65 years to more than 30 percent for people older than 80 years,” according to the report.

LOAD among African Americans is higher than among whites living in the same community and researchers found that the ABCA7 gene is most associated with the risk of LOAD among African Americans. While ABCA7 also increases the risk of folks of European ancestry, it is 60 percent higher among African Americans. Those with the gene face nearly double the risk of developing LOAD compared with African-Americans who lack the gene.


The largest study to date looking for genetic causes of Alzheimer’s in African Americans may offer new clues about why blacks in the United States are twice as likely as whites, to develop the deadly, brain-wasting disease. Information/Photo Credit:

This ABCA7 gene is involved in the production of cholesterol and lipids, which suggest that lipid production may be a more crucial indicator of Alzheimer’s disease in blacks than in whites. And with the cholesterol and lipid increases – and the resulting vascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes are more frequent in African-Americans, treatments that reduce cholesterol and vascular disease may potentially be an effective way to reduce or delay LOAD.

If validated by future studies, the researchers note the identification of ABCA7 gene may have “major implications for developing targets for genetic testing, prevention, and treatment.”

Featured Photo Credit:
Janice S. Ellis