What is the Alzheimer's Gene?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2018
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An Alzheimer's gene is a gene associated with the development or progression of Alzheimer's disease. Several genes have been identified as targets of interest in Alzheimer's research, including a gene known as MTHFD1L and the apoliprotein E gene. Researchers have found that people with certain genetic variations are at increased risk for developing Alzheimer's and testing for such genes can provide people with information about what to expect as they age.

There is a clear genetic component in the development of Alzheimer's disease; numerous studies on people with family histories of this disease have shown how the presence of the disease in relatives indicates an increased risk of developing it in old age. Identifying Alzheimer's genes allows researchers to make predictions in addition to developing tools to treat, and possibly someday prevent, Alzheimer's disease. It is important to note that not having the gene doesn't mean someone is not at risk, and having the gene is not a guarantee that someone will develop the disease.

Variations in genes associated with Alzheimer's disease can increase the risk of getting the condition and may also signal an increased risk of rapid progression or early onset. Learning how these genes impact the body is a complicated process and researchers are working on it from a number of different angles. In people with the Alzheimer's gene, the presence of the gene can be an indicator to conduct regular screenings to watch for the early signs of this degenerative neurological disease.


Inheritance and gene expression are complex topics. People with genetic variations putting them at risk for certain conditions may not develop those conditions, and if they do, there may not be any options for prevention or treatment. Researchers interested in the possibility of genetic modification are interested in learning how the Alzheimer's gene and other genes like it work, with the goal of possibly providing preventative treatment to stop these genes from expressing, thereby reducing the risk of getting sick later in life.

Genetic counselors can provide information about Alzheimer's gene testing in addition to assisting people with the reading of results of genetic testing. People who have a family history of illnesses with a known genetic link may want to consider testing to see if they carry gene variations putting them at increased risk so they can prepare. Genetic counseling can also be useful for couples who would like to research family histories of genetic conditions before having children.



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