Resistance to dementia may run in the family

People who are free of dementia and have high levels of a protein that indicates the presence of inflammation have relatives who are more likely to avoid the disease as well, according to a new study published in the August 15, 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"In very elderly people with good cognition, higher levels of C-reactive protein, which is related to , are associated with better memory," said study author Jeremy M. Silverman, PhD, with Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "Our results found that the higher the level of this protein in the study participant, the lower the risk for in their parents and siblings."

For the study, researchers identified 277 male veterans age 75 and older and free of dementia symptoms. They were given a test that measured levels of the protein. Next, the group was interviewed about 1,329 parents and siblings and whether they had dementia. A total of 40 relatives from 37 families had dementia. A secondary, independent group of 51 men age 85 and older with no dementia symptoms were given an interview about 202 relatives for dementia. Nine of the relatives had dementia.

Study investigators found that participants who had higher amounts of the protein were more than 30 percent less likely to have relatives with dementia. Similar results were found in the secondary group. Since the were not associated with years of education, marital status, occupation and physical activity, these factors could not account for the lower risks seen.

"This protein is related to worse cognition in younger elderly people. Thus, for very old people who remain cognitively healthy, those with a high level may be more resistant to dementia," said Silverman. "Our study shows that this protection may be passed on to immediate relatives."

Related Stories

Diabetes may significantly increase your risk of dementia

Sep 19, 2011

People with diabetes appear to be at a significantly increased risk of developing dementia, according to a study published in the September 20, 2011, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neu ...

Low childhood IQ linked to type of dementia

Jun 26, 2008

Children with lower IQs are more likely decades later to develop vascular dementia than children with high IQs, according to research published in the June 25, 2008, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the ...

Having a parent with dementia may affect memory in midlife

Feb 18, 2009

People who have parents diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia may be more likely to have memory loss themselves in middle age, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of ...

Recommended for you

New learning mechanism for individual nerve cells

54 minutes ago

The traditional view is that learning is based on the strengthening or weakening of the contacts between the nerve cells in the brain. However, this has been challenged by new research findings from Lund University in Sweden. ...

USC memory scientist Richard Thompson dies at 84

17 hours ago

Richard F. Thompson, the University of Southern California neuroscientist whose experiments with rabbits led to breakthrough discoveries on how memories are physically stored in the brain, has died. He was 84.

Modeling shockwaves through the brain

17 hours ago

Since the start of the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 300,000 soldiers have returned to the United States with traumatic brain injury caused by exposure to bomb blasts—and in particular, ...

User comments