Does A Gene that Seems to Prevent Age-Related Cognitive Decline Be a Predictor for Alzheimer’s?

A new article appearing in The Scientist seems to tackle this seeming paradox; can a gene both be a protection against cognitive decline while also being the leading indicator that one will develop Alzheimer’s later in life? The study finds that a protein we all have – Apolipoprotein E (APOE) – can sometimes be created in a variant form: APOE ε4.

“The findings suggest that “something about the possession of an [APOE ε4] allele . . . is providing some positive impacts on your cognitive function,” Schott tells Science. He also notes in a press release that how APOE ε4 increases the risk of Alzheimer’s remains a mystery. “Understanding why [APOE ε4] might result in better memory may also help us to understand why it also leads to increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” he says.

So we don’t yet know why this seeming contradiction exists, but the contradiction is real and not just statistical noise.

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