Studying the Effects of Family History On illness Risk in Alzheimer’s Patients: Research

According to a recent study on Alzheimer’s by researchers in Boston, analyzing a person’s family history may be crucial in identifying those who are more susceptible to the progressive disease.

According to the Mass General Brigham research, a person’s chance of developing amyloid buildup in the brain, a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, may alter depending on their mother’s vs their father’s family history.

Using amyloid imaging on 4,400 cognitively normal adults, the researchers discovered elevated levels of amyloid in those whose mothers had shown signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Hyun-Sik Yang, a behavioral neurologist in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology and a neurologist at Mass General Brigham, stated, “Our study found if participants had a family history on their mother’s side, a higher amyloid level was observed.”

He mentioned that smaller-scale studies in the past have looked into the connection between family history and Alzheimer’s since scientists think genetics may be involved in the disease’s development.

While some of those studies indicated a higher risk of Alzheimer’s based on maternal history, the group desired access to a bigger clinical trial data set and to reevaluate the question with patients who were cognitively normal.

The researchers looked at the family histories of participants in the Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s trial who were 65 to 85 years old. Participants were questioned regarding their parents’ onset of memory loss symptoms. Researchers also inquired about formal diagnosis and autopsy confirmation of Alzheimer’s in their parents.

“Some people decide not to pursue a formal diagnosis and attribute memory loss to age, so we focused on a memory loss and dementia phenotype,” said Yang, who works as a medical investigator of Neurology at the Mass General Research Institute.

Following that, researchers compared the subjects’ responses and took their amyloid levels. They discovered that greater amyloid levels were linked to a paternal history of early-onset memory impairment and a mother history of memory impairment at all ages.

Researchers found no correlation between increased amyloid levels and merely a paternal history of late-onset memory impairment.

Mabel Seto, a postdoctoral research member in the Department of Neurology at the Brigham Young Institute, stated, “If your father had early onset symptoms, that is associated with elevated levels in the offspring.” It doesn’t matter when your mother first experienced symptoms, though; if she did, they were linked to high amyloid.

Given that women are more likely than males to have Alzheimer’s disease, she said the study’s findings are intriguing and that it’s “really interesting from a genetic perspective to see one sex contributing something the other sex isn’t.”