With the aim of identifying modifiable Alzheimer’s risk factors in their study, the team analyzed data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium and the International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project, involving 17,008 people with Alzheimer’s and 37,154 people without the condition.
The researchers used a “supercomputer” to analyze the genomes of each participant, looking for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) – common genetic variations – that may be associated with potentially modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking.
“This is to date the most authoritative paper looking at causal relationships between Alzheimer’s disease and these potentially modifiable factors,” says Prof. Kauwe. “In terms of the number of samples, it can’t get bigger at this point.”
The team found that people who were genetically predisposed to have high systolic blood pressure were at lower risk for developing Alzheimer’s, compared with people who did not have a genetic predisposition for high blood pressure.
The researchers also found that individuals with genetically predisposed high blood pressure were much more likely to be using antihypertensive medication, causing the researchers to speculate it may be the use of these drugs rather than high blood pressure itself that drives this association.
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