You may begin to show the signs of Alzheimer’s disease and memory problems in your 50s if you inherit a common gene variant known as, ApoE4, according to new research.
Mayo Clinic Arizona studied 815 health people ages 21 to 97. Looking at their genes, researchers found 317 participants had the ApoE4 gene variant, and those people were more likely to have early memory decline, some as early as in their 50s. If a person inherited the gene from both parents the decline was worse, reports US News.
The perplexing thing is that not everyone who has the gene will develop Alzheimer’s disease. 90 and 100-year-olds with the E4 gene have no evidence of memory decline. Though, in an apparent contradiction, researchers say having the ApoE4 gene variant raises the risk of developing the disease by more than 50 percent.
Researchers agree that having the ApoE4 in itself does not determine the person’s fate and many advise against being tested because of the potential for discrimination in the workplace and by insurance companies and because it is not a firm determinant someone will get the disease.
The study finds those who did test positive and received counseling handled it well.
Among people in their 50s, "You can start to see cognitive impairment, memory decline, in ApoE4 carriers early, although they're not clinically diagnosed with dementia or mild cognitive impairment," said Rudi Tanzi, director of the genetics and aging unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.
"ApoE4 is not sufficient to give you the disease. It works together with not only your lifestyle and environmental factors…but it works together with other genetic factors, some of which confirm risk…but some of which confirm protection," Tanzi said to ABC News.
Dr. Richard Caselli, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic says the symptoms may be noticeable in a clinical setting but not in everyday life.
"What's passing as normal aging itself correlates with the most common genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease” he says.
The research is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. #