Dementia risk specific to people of African ancestry identified

Study author Dr Mark Logue, a statistician with the VA Boston Health System and National Center for PTSD, said: “The MVP represents an incredible resource for genetic testing of many diseases, including dementia. “This study is one of the first related to Alzheimer’s disease to be conducted from the MVP. My colleagues and I are working to strengthen research on dementia in MVP and to collaborate with studies on dementia. Alzheimer’s disease and other large-scale dementia.

“The results suggest a significant increase in knowledge of the genetic makeup of dementia risk in populations of African descent,” said Logue.


According to the team, people of African descent and other minorities are historically underrepresented in genetic research, which is why this study represents an important milestone.

Dementia and people of African descent

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

Increasing the representation of non-European ancestral populations in genome-wide association studies has been identified as an important science and equity issue in genetic studies. According to the study, differences in sample sizes between studies of European and non-European ancestry to date may even contribute to health disparities among ethnic minorities. number.

To address this disparity, the Boston VA researchers compared the genomes of more than 4,000 African-American MVP participants with dementia with more than 18,000 Veterans without dementia. The team also conducted a second analysis comparing 7,000 black MVP participants who reported their parents had dementia with another 56,000 people whose parents did not have dementia. This sample is more than twice as large as the largest previous 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. Although many of these genes have been associated with dementia in previous genetic studies of people of European ancestry, only two of them have been identified as significant risk factors in people of African origin.

Although many of the genetic variants identified in this study were associated with cluster dementia, the specific gene variants associated with dementia risk differed among people with different genetic origins. of African and European descent, meaning that different forms of the same gene can affect a person’s risk of dementia based on their race.

With more than 900,000 participants to date, MVP is one of the largest genetic research programs in the world. MVP researchers collect genetic data in addition to health, lifestyle, and military exposure information to understand how genes affect health and disease.

MVP is also one of the most diverse genetic programs in the world. More than 150,000 African-American Veterans volunteered for the MVP, representing 18% of the total number of participants. This means that the MVP includes more people of African descent than any other biobank in the world. Thanks to the diversity and altruism of participating Veterans, MVP is working to bridge the racial gap in the link between genetics and disease.

“The sheer size of the MVP as one of the largest genetic databases in the world means it can really advance what is known about how genes affect risk,” says Logue. dementia”. “Working on MVP data is an exciting opportunity for a researcher like me and I am grateful to all the Veterans who agreed to participate in this study.”

Source: Eurekalert


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