Scientists have identified a gene that appears to increase the risk of Alzheimer's in women, providing a potential new clue as to why the disease is diagnosed more often in women than in men.
The results of the new study have been published in Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia: Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.
The O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase, or MGMT, gene plays an important role in how the body repairs DNA damage in both men and women. However, the researchers found no link between MGMT and Alzheimer's disease in men.
This female-specific outcome is perhaps one of the strongest associations for a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease in women, said study senior co-author Lindsay Farrer, head of biomedical genetics at Boston University School of Medicine.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, two-thirds of the 6.5 million Americans currently living with a devastating brain disease are women. This trend is typical for the whole world.
The APOE ε4 gene is considered the strongest risk factor for future Alzheimer's disease in people over 65, which is particularly true for women, who are more affected by APOE ε4 than men.
However, many women with APOE ε4 do not have Alzheimer's disease, while women without the gene may develop the disease.
MGMT may be an important missing piece of the risk prediction puzzle for these women, but further research is needed, the scientist suggested.