Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease in Both Parents May Boost Dementia Risk in Adult Offspring

Patients who are free of dementia but have 2 parents with late-onset Alzheimer's disease may show signs of the disease in brain scans several years, if not decades, before they display clinical symptoms.

Patients who are free of dementia but have 2 parents with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease may show signs of the disease in brain scans several years, if not decades, before they display clinical symptoms, a new study published in Neurology suggests.

For their study, researchers from the New York University School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College performed positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on 52 cognitively normal subjects between the ages of 32 and 72 years.

After reviewing the results of the brain scans, the authors found participants who had 2 parents with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease had 5-10% more plaques in certain regions of the brain and more severe abnormalities in brain volume and metabolism than those who had one parent or no family members with Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers also found subjects whose mothers had Alzheimer’s disease showed a higher level of disease biomarkers in their brain scans compared to those whose fathers had dementia.

Though the authors said their findings suggest certain genes may predispose Alzheimer’s disease, it is not yet known which genes, if any, are responsible for early changes in the brain.