Atlanta VA & Emory Study the Connection Between High LDL Cholesterol & Early-Onset Alzheimer’s

Cardiovascular Disease and CNS

Janice Wood of PsychCentral reports that new research has uncovered a link between high LDL cholesterol levels and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Based on these results, doctors could gain deeper insight as to how the disease develops and an exploration of potential causes including genetic variation based on research from the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Emory University.

Past Research

Research has revealed that APOE, a specific gene mutation, may represent a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. APOE is the largest known single genetic risk factor for the disease. The APOE variant known as APOE E4 is correlated with the raising of circulating cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL).  Referred to as bad cholesterol, high levels can portend a build-up of cholesterol in the arteries.

Ms. Wood writes that little has been researched on the possible connection between cholesterol levels and early-onset Alzheimer’s risk.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s

A relatively rare form of the condition, about 10% of Alzheimer’s represent early-onset. The disease may be largely genetic based.

The Research

PsychCentral reports that an increased risk of Alzheimer’s may be associated with high cholesterol. Certain genetic factors may represent a culprit. APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2 are three genes known to be related to early-onset Alzheimer’s. APOE E4 may be a risk factor.

Sequencing the genomic regions of 2,125 people (654 with Alzheimer’s and 1,471 who did not), researchers also tested blood samples of 267 participants to measure LDL cholesterol amounts.

The Findings

The team found that APOE E4 could possibly explain 10% of early-onset Alzheimer’s which is similar to estimates in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. They also found that approximately 3% of early-onset Alzheimer’s had at least one of either APP, PSEN1 and PSNE2.

After running blood sample tests, the researchers discovered that those with elevated LDL levels were more likely to have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease compared with those with lower cholesterol levels.

Lead Research/Investigator

Dr. Thomas Wingo, neurologist, Atlanta VA & Emory