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2017 Grants - Rasgon
Sex Specific Interactions of Modifiable and Non-modifiable Risk Factors of Alzheimer’s Disease
Natalie Rasgon, M.D., Ph.D.
2017 Sex and Gender in Alzheimer’s (SAGA) Grant
Are there sex differences in the way risk factors interact to influence the development of Alzheimer’s disease?
Several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease have been identified; they include increasing age, family history of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity, blood cholesterol levels, diet, and certain genetic variations such as APOE-e4 (apolipoprotein E4). There is also some evidence that sex may be a risk factor, with women being at higher risk than men. Many scientific studies have attempted quantify the strength of individual risk factors. However, risk factors may interact in complex ways, whereby one risk factor enhances or reduces the effect of another risk factor. For example, the APOE-e4 genetic variant may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in women more than in men. The nature and strengths of these interactions between risk factors are not well understood.
Natalie Rasgon, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues will study how modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors may interact to promote the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers plan to determine risk factors in a group of 200 men and women who have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers will measure levels of sex hormones (such as estrogen and testosterone), the presence of the APOE genetic variations and insulin resistance (a warning sign of diabetes). They will also assess measures of aging and signs of Alzheimer’s disease using brain imaging and blood tests that indicate levels of inflammation. Using statistical methods, Dr. Rasgon and colleagues will then determine how multiple risk factors interact to influence a person’s overall risk of brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
This study will increase our understanding of the potentially complex interactions amongst risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Importantly, this work will examine if risk factors differ between men and women to determine which ones may be most relevant for predicting future onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This new information may inform the development better ways to predict, diagnose and prevent Alzheimer’s disease in both sexes.