Researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have linked obesity to 21 Alzheimer’s disease-related genes in a new study, offering a possible mechanistic explanation for why Alzheimer’s disease is somewhat more common in adults who were obese in their midlife.
The study included over 5,600 participants from the Framingham Heart Study. The findings were published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
The researchers examined 74 Alzheimer’s-related genes found in Framingham data. In obesity, 21 of those genes were either under-expressed or over-expressed. Gene expression is the activation of a gene in a cell to perform functions such as protein synthesis.
What researchers found: “Obesity metrics were associated with the expression of 21 AD-related genes. The strongest associations were observed with CLU, CD2AP, KLC3, and FCER1G. Unique associations were noted with TSPAN14, SLC24A4 for BMI, and ZSCAN21, BCKDK for WHR.”
“After adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors, 13 associations remained significant for BMI and 8 for WHR. Dichotomous obesity metrics exhibited unique associations with EPHX2 for BMI, and with TSPAN14 for WHR,” the authors also mentioned in the report. “Obesity was associated with AD-related gene expression; these findings shed light on the molecular pathways linking obesity to AD.”