Science News | Study Reveals Genetic Risk for Dementia Among People of African Descent

Los Angeles [US]December 22 (ANI): Researchers discovered many genetic risks distinct from those seen in people of European descent in the largest-ever genomic investigation of dementia in people of African heritage.The scientists discovered many instances where gene variations may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by using data from the VA Million Veteran Program (MVP).

“MVP is a fantastic resource for studying the genetics of numerous diseases, including dementia,” said research author Dr. Mark Logue, a statistician at the VA Boston Healthcare System and the National Center for PTSD. “This is one of the first Alzheimer’s disease-related research to emerge from MVP. My colleagues and I are working hard to expand MVP’s dementia work and collaborate with other large-scale Alzheimer’s disease research organizations.

Also Read | TVF Pitchers Season 2 Review: Naveen Kasturia, Riddhi Dogra’s Series is Well-Narrated and Acted But Doesn’t Reach Heights of the First Season! (LatestLY Exclusive).

In the United States, a greater proportion of African Americans have Alzheimer’s disease than people of European ancestry; however, most large genetic studies of Alzheimer’s disease study white participants. While there are genes implicated in Alzheimer’s that are consistent across different populations, the researchers explained in the study that specific variants may differ by ancestry. That means study results using only one ethnic group may not apply to other groups, hindering dementia prevention and treatment. For example, studies have found that a gene variant called APOE E4 carries the largest genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease in people with European ancestry, but the effect of APOE E4 is half as strong in people of African ancestry.

Increasing the representation of non-European ancestry populations in genome-wide association studies has been identified as a critical scientific and equity issue in genetic studies. The difference in sample sizes between European ancestry and non-European ancestry studies to date could even contribute to health disparities in minority populations, according to the study.

Also Read | Kathmandu Connection Season 2 Review: Amit Sial’s Thriller is Pacier This Time But Treads on Familiar Grounds (LatestLY Exclusive).

To address this disparity, Boston VA researchers compared the genomes of more than 4,000 MVP participants of African ancestry who had dementia with more than 18,000 Veterans without dementia. The team also conducted a second analysis comparing 7,000 black MVP participants who reported that their parents had dementia with 56,000 others whose parents didn’t have dementia. This sample is more than twice the size of the previous largest Alzheimer’s genetic study of individuals of African ancestry.

The results showed an association between dementia risk and variants in six different genes, including APOE. While many of these genes have been linked to dementia in past genetic studies of people with European ancestry, only two of them had been identified as significant risk factors in people with African ancestry.

While many of the genetic variants identified in this study were linked to dementia in groups, the particular gene variants linked to dementia risk were different between people of African and European ancestry, meaning that different forms of the same gene may affect a person’s dementia risk based on their race.

These new findings will help close the gap in knowledge of Alzheimer’s risk based on ancestry, the researchers said. Identifying population-specific genetic risk factors will lead to more accurate risk assessment in people of African ancestry and could also reveal new molecular targets to develop medications to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

With over 900,000 participants to date, MVP is one of the world’s largest genetic research programs. MVP researchers collect genetic data in addition to information on health, lifestyle, and military exposures to understand how genes affect health and illness.

MVP is also one of the most diverse genetic programs in the world. More than 150,000 African American Veterans have volunteered to join MVP, making up 18% of all participants. This means MVP includes more people of African ancestry than any other biobank in the world. Thanks to its diversity and the altruism of the Veterans who participate, MVP is working to close the racial gap in the link between genetics and disease.

“The sheer size of MVP as one of the world’s largest genetic databases means that it can really push forward what is known about how genes influence dementia risk,” Logue said. “Working on MVP data is an exciting opportunity for a researcher like me, and I’m grateful to all of the Veterans who agreed to be in this study.” (ANI)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)