Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder and the most common cause of dementia, affecting more than 5.8 million individuals in the United States. In AD occurring after age 65 one of the strongest established genetic risk factors is the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele, being present in only 40% of AD cases, implicating that other genes contribute to the genetic architecture of the disease.
A recently published study suggests that a new gene could be linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, especially in women. The study appears in the journal Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
According to data from the Alzheimer’s Association, women are about twice as likely to be affected by AD than men.
New Genetic Risk Factor Found
For the study, the team used genome-wide sequencing (GWAS) and found a gene called MGMT which may increase the risk of AD in women. They evaluated two different populations. One in the Hutterites, a population isolate of central European ancestry that are known to have a small gene pool (31 participants, 22 of them women), and another population that were part of the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (10,340 women without APOE ɛ4).
After doing their evaluations of GWAS, the team found that in both populations, the MGMT gene was associated with AD risk in women lacking APOE ɛ4.
The study also suggested that the expression of this gene contributes to the development of toxic amyloid and tau proteins that are associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Jaeyoon Chung, et al. Genome-wide association and multi-omics studies identify MGMT as a novel risk gene for Alzheimer’s disease among women. 2022. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. https://doi.org/10.1002/alz.12719