AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 2, 2019

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Family History of Alzheimer’s May Alter Metabolic Gene That Increases Risk for Disease

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A new Iowa State University study may have identified the link that explains years of conflicting research over a mitochondrial gene and the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Auriel Willette, an ISU assistant professor of food science and human nutrition who led the study, says the researcher who initially discovered the gene, TOMM40 (Translocase of Outer Mitochondrial Membrane–40kD), found it increased the risk for Alzheimer’s. However, when multiple studies failed to replicate the results, many researchers dismissed the findings, Willette said. Not convinced the gene was a total bust, Willette decided to look at other factors that may be contributing to the mixed results. In the paper published online, Willette and his colleagues found a dramatic difference in the gene’s impact on memory, general cognitive function and risk based on a family history of Alzheimer’s disease and the length of a specific section of the gene.

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