Risk gene at work in childhood
From the Autumn 2016 edition of Care and cure magazine, The APOE4 gene may have effects on the brain even in early age.
The gene APOE comes in three versions and each one has a different effect on your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Whereas having APOE2 is slightly protective, having the APOE4 version can increase your risk by up to 10 times.
How this gene works to influence the risk of dementia is still not understood, but it is a hot topic of research across the world. A new study, published in an American Academy of Neurology journal, looked at the gene's influence on the brain in childhood.
Children aged between three and 20 years took part in the study, which identified which version of APOE they had, tested their memory and thinking skills, and gave them brain scans.
The study found differences in brain development among children with the higher-risk APOE4 gene when compared to those with other versions of the gene. These changes were seen in areas of the brain that are often affected by Alzheimer's disease.
While this research is very interesting, it is worth noting that less than 30 of the 1,187 children involved in the study had the APOE4 gene, meaning that these results are from a small group of people and so need to be interpreted with caution.
The APOE4 gene is known to increase risk of Alzheimer's disease, but people with the gene will not necessarily develop the condition. Further research will hopefully uncover more details about the long-term effects of this gene on the brain.