Alzheimer’s risk higher in offspring
(August 04 2008 at 08:23AM)
By Martha Kerr
According to research presented this week in Chicago at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, having a mother with the disease predisposes her offspring to impaired metabolism of glucose in regions of the brain associated with the disease.
In an interview with Reuters Health, study presenter Dr. Lisa Mosconi said: “What we can do now is to say that children of AD mothers are at higher risk for developing dementia. They need to make sure that they take special care of their health. Part of the key is to focus on controllable risk factors, such as cardiovascular risk factors.”
“We are becoming more and more aware of the strong connection between vascular health and brain health,” Mosconi added. “Exercise, a balanced diet, quit smoking, eat food that contains moderate quantities of antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium) and keep your brain active,” she advised.
In a two-year study, Mosconi and colleagues at New York University Medical Centre measured the rate of brain glucose metabolism in 66 healthy individuals, ranging in age from 50 to 82 years.
For 37 subjects, there was no parental history of AD. Nine had a paternal history of AD and 20 had a maternal history of AD.
According to Mosconi, subjects with a maternal history of AD “…had glucose metabolism deficits in the same brain regions that are typically affected in clinical AD patients, and that are responsible for memory, attention, and language rate reductions.”
During follow-up, subjects with a maternal history of AD showed a significant decline in cerebral metabolic rate in the implicated brain regions.
“Over two years, individuals with an AD-affected mother lost metabolism in their brains almost six times faster than the rest of the subjects,” Mosconi noted.
“By knowing what the problem is, we stand a better chance to treat it,” Mosconi commented. “In AD, metabolic deficits are tightly associated to oxidative stress. Therefore, individuals with an AD-mother and low brain metabolism may particularly benefit from treatments with antioxidants.” She acknowledged that this hypothesis has not been proven.