If you are a man and your red blood cells lack Y chromosomes, you should know that you are more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. This is according to new research coming out of the European Society of Human Genetics Conference in Spain, with the team responsible for the study suggesting that their work might help medical experts develop an early warning system for Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s afflicts millions of people around the world, and the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s is expected to reach an all-time high by 2050. Considering a relative prevalence of Alzheimer’s today, it is surprising that so little is known about the disease, especially the molecular mechanisms responsible for its manifestation as well as the risk factors.
While it is widely known that old age is the primary risk factor, most medical experts agree that there are probably many more parameters that are involved. Of all the studies about Alzheimer’s that have emerged in recent years, the most promising of them have connected the disease to inappropriate levels of cholesterol intake and low blood pressure, this along with mental and physical activity.
New research has now emerged, revealing new clues that might explain the root causes of Alzheimer’s.
While women have two X chromosomes, Men have an X and a Y chromosome. The Y chromosome has been found to slowly degenerate in some men as they age.
Studies looking into this so called Loss of Y have endeavored to connect the phenomenon with all kinds of cancers, with some research suggesting that this information could be used to develop early warning cancer systems.
According to the research performed by Professor Lars Forsberg and Professor Jan Dumanski (Uppsala University), there is a reason to link the manifestation of Alzheimer’s to Loss of Y.
Working with teams from the UK, US, France and Canada, Forsberg and Dumanski analyzed the chromosomes of over three thousand men between the ages of 37 and 96, of which 17 percent showed signs of Loss of Y in an estimated 10 percent of their red blood cells.
Forsberg and Dumanski realized that individuals who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s were more likely to have Loss of Y. Blood cells are essential to the body’s immune system. The study authors believe that the Loss of Y probably lowers the red blood cells’ ability to function as required when responding to a threat.
There is a scarcity of research into Loss of Y. Forsberg and Dumanski believe that they are on the right track to not only connecting Loss of Y to Alzheimer’s but also developing an effective early warning system for the disease.
For the moment, medical experts are likely to start encouraging men to get tested for Loss of Y in order to determine if they are at risk of manifesting Alzheimer’s.