Gene Research Focuses on Alzheimer's Disease Risk

Published Online: Saturday, March 1, 2003

A report published in the Archives of Neurology has found that people with a polymorphism in the CYP46 gene are at increased risk for late-onset Alzheimer?s disease (AD). According to researchers, this gene encodes cholesterol 24-hydroxylase, and previous studies have shown that reducing cholesterol levels in the brain inhibits the generation of beta-amyloid peptides found in AD plaques.The study compared 201 patients with AD with 248 control individuals to assess the CYP46 genotype and the frequency of a particular polymorphism. Researchers found the CYP46*TT genotype to be significantly more common among the patients with AD. The study authors concluded that ?these data are consistent with the possibility that CYP46 is a novel susceptibility gene for Alzheimer?s disease.?

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Benjamin Wolozin from Loyola University remarked that the possibility of late-onset AD may be an end point for abnormalities that increase the amount of cholesterol in the central nervous system and that ?inhibiting cholesterol metabolism in the brain might represent a viable treatment.?

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