Gene harms brain decades before Alzheimer’s outbreak

May 15th, 2011 - 11:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 15 (IANS) A gene that you carry may begin to damage your brain a full 50 years before Alzheimer’s disease shows up, scientists say.

In 1993, researchers discovered a gene known as ApoE4 — carried by about a quarter of us — that triples the risk for getting Alzheimer’s.

In 2009, three more risky genes were discovered, and one of them, called clusterin or CLU, was found to up the risk of getting Alzheimer’s by 16 percent.

Now, University of California Los Angeles researchers say that CLU begins to damage your brain a full 50 years before Alzheimer’s shows up, the Journal of Neuroscience reports.

Paul Thompson, professor of neurology and his colleagues at California report that the C-allele of the CLU gene (one of two or more forms of a gene), impairs the development of myelin, the protective covering around the neuron’s (brain cell) axons, making it more vulnerable to the onset of Alzheimer’s much later in life.

Researchers scanned the brains of 398 healthy adults ranging from 20 to 30 years using a newer type of MRI that maps the brain’s connections, according to a California statement.

They compared those carrying a C-allele variant of the CLU gene with those who had a different variant.

They found that young, healthy carriers of the CLU-C gene risk variant showed a distinct profile of a kind of white matter that may increase susceptibility to developing the Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

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