Moms' Alzheimer's Poses Higher Dementia Risks For Their Children
Previous studies have shown that the incidence of Alzheimer's disease is higher among those whose parents were diagnosed with the disease. These studies more recently showed a higher incidence of Alzheimer's among those whose mothers had the disease compared to individuals whose fathers had Alzheimer's.
Researchers at NYU's Langone Medical Center used positron emission tomography (PET) with Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB), a new fluorescent dye that highlights amyloid plaques during a PET scan, to study the brains of 42 healthy persons. Fourteen of this study's 42 volunteers had no family history of Alzheimer's disease, 14 had fathers who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and 14 volunteers had mothers with the disease. Amyloid-beta plaques in the brain are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. Not everyone who has these plaques develop Alzheimer's, but the correlation is high.
The results of the scans led researchers to conclude that the amyloid-beta plaque in the brains of otherwise healthy children of Alzheimer's parents was due to heredity. In the image above, the red areas of the brain show the average increases in amyloid-beta deposits in the 14 volunteers with a maternally-inherited risk; the blue highlights represent the average plaque of those with paternally-inherited risk. Purple dye shows even higher amyloid deposits in both groups.
Though follow-up studies will be conducted with this group of volunteers as well as new groups, this study helped to quantify the risk of developing Alzheimer's based on hereditary factors. Those with maternal heredity have a 15 percent higher risk of Alzheimer's than those with paternal heredity, and a 20 percent higher risk than those with no family history of the disease.