Specific Genetic Factors Plus Unhealthy Diet Boost Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, USC Study Finds

Specific Genetic Factors Plus Unhealthy Diet Boost Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, USC Study Finds
A high-fat, high-sugar diet may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in people carrying the ApoE4 gene, according to a new study, “Obesity Accelerates Alzheimer-Related Pathology in APOE4 but Not APOE3 Mice,” that appeared in the journal eNeuro. Obesity is considered an environmental risk factor for Alzheimer’s, while the strongest genetic risk factor for late onset of this disease is the ApoE4 gene. ApoE proteins help regulate levels of cholesterol in the blood and transport fat molecules to the brain. However, high levels of the ApoE4 variant — one of possible version of the ApoE gene — have been associated with increased risk of heart disease, accelerated cognitive decline during aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Science has shown that Alzheimer's affects more women than men. Having one copy of ApoE4 quadruples women's risk for developing the disease. But having two copies of ApoE4 is an issue for men and women, raising their risk for the disease by a factor of 10. To understand the relationship between obesity and the ApoE genes, researchers at the University of Southern California compared the effects of a high-calorie diet in mice carrying either the relatively rare ApoE4 gene (present in 10-15 percent of the population) or the ApoE3 gene, a much more common variant not associated with Alzheimer’s disease (and found in 70-75 percent of the population). For 12 weeks, mice with these genes were either fed a healthy diet composed of 10 percent fat and 7 percent sugar, or a Western diet, with 45 percent fat and 17 percent sugar. Resu
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