Alzheimer’s Gene Linked to Blood Flow

Alzheimers disease ApoE4 gene may be linked to vessel health in the brain

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) A gene, termed ApoE4, has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). New research begins to uncover why this gene may put people at a higher risk.

A new study found that elderly people with the ApoE4 gene were also more likely to have faulty blood vessels in the brain.

This may help researchers to understand how this gene increases risk, which could lead to new detection and treatment strategies.

"Talk to your doctor about any memory lapses."

Researchers at the Banner Sun Research Institute in Arizona, led by Jesse Hunter, PhD, looked at the brains and medical history of people who were deceased and were involved with the Brain and Body Donation program.

They compared brain tissue and blood vessels in the brains of 25 people who either had an AD diagnosis before, did not have an AD diagnosis but had signs of the disease, or people with no cognitive difficulties or signs of the disease.

They found that patients who had the ApoE4 gene and people who were diagnosed with AD had higher levels of string vessels. String vessels are small blood vessels that have collapsed and no longer carry blood. The researchers concluded that this may show that ApoE4 is important for blood flow in the brain and that loss of blood flow could be part of the AD disease process.

However, Hunter and colleagues also found that the general level of blood flow, as represented by the density of blood vessels, was not different between people with AD and those without.

More research is needed to understand how changes in blood flow, and genetic influences on this process, may be important for the detection and treatment of AD.

The study was published in May in PLoS One. The authors reported no financial conflicts.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 20, 2012
Last Updated:
July 31, 2012