Variation in the gene ABCA7 causes increased risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease

African-Americans have a higher incidence of late-onset Alzheimer’s.  A large-scale GWAS study has identified that a variation in the gene ABCA7 causes the risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease to double in African-Americans.  The study was recently published in JAMA.

The research, the largest analysis yet to establish genetic risk linked to late-onset Azheimer’s disease in African-Americans, was undertaken by the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium and led by scientists from Columbia University Medical Center.

The ABCA7 gene plays a part in the production of lipids and cholesterol, which indicates that lipid metabolism might be a more crucial pathway for the disease in African-American individuals than in whites.

It is more common for African-Americans to experience lipid and cholesterol imbalances – which ultimately result in heart attacks, strokes, and vascular disease. Therefore, the authors explained that treatments that lower cholesterol and vascular disease could possibly be a successful way to decrease or delay Alzheimer’s among this group of people.