Researchers find a genetic risk factor evident in Alzheimer’s and COVID-19

Researchers at the University College London indicated in their new findings that the OAS1 gene heightens the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to six percent while related variants also increase the risk of COVID-19 complications.


The study appeared in the journal Brain.

“We have found that some of the same immune system changes can occur in both Alzheimer’s disease and COVID-19,” said Dervis Salih, the study’s lead author in a news release.

“In patients with severe COVID-19 infection there can also be inflammatory changes in the brain. Here we have identified a gene that can contribute to an exaggerated immune response to increase risks of both Alzheimer’s and COVID-19.”

For the study, researchers investigated the sequenced genetic data of more than 2,500 participants, about half of which had a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

“They found that people with a particular variation, called rs1131454, of the OAS1 gene were more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease, increasing carriers’ baseline risk of Alzheimer’s by an estimated 11-22%,” the news release reads.

“The new variant identified is common, as just over half of Europeans are believed to carry it, and it has a bigger impact on Alzheimer’s risk than several known risk genes.”

“Our findings suggest that some people may have increased susceptibility to both Alzheimer’s disease and severe COVID-19, irrespective of their age, as some of our immune cells appear to engage a common molecular mechanism in both diseases,” said another co-author in the news release.

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