New research suggests gender differences could explain the spread of tau in the brain – Alzheimer’s Society comment

New research presented today (Tuesday 16th July) at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2019 in Los Angeles identified a number of differences in the progression and risk of Alzheimer’s disease between women and men.

Findings from researchers at the Vanderbilt University Medical Centre found sex-specific differences in the spread of abnormal tau protein, a toxic substance associated with cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s.

Fiona Carragher, Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, says:

'The facts speak for themselves - women living with dementia outnumber men two to one across the world.

'Dementia also affects women differently, with symptoms like delusions, depression and reclusiveness experienced more widely in women than men.

'This study adds more flesh to the bones of our understanding, suggesting that the toxic protein tau spreads more rapidly through the brains of women with Alzheimer’s.

'In turn, this could potentially cause the death of more brain cells at a faster rate than in men.

'Women’s brain health is an under-studied topic, and, historically, the lion’s share of dementia research has focused on men.

'Our researchers are hard at work to rectify this imbalance, with new information and greater focus on this area potentially leading to the development of sex-specific drugs and risk-reduction strategies.'