Alzheimer’s gene plays role in childhood IQ

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brain connections
APP gene variation, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, has also been found to correlate to fluid intelligence in children.
Mutations of the amyloid precursor protein gene are known to be involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, new research points to a correlation between this gene and intellectual abilities in children, raising questions about the protein’s role in cognition.

According to data provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 5.5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. Treatment of the disease is estimated to cost the healthcare system around $259 billion each year. Alzheimer’s accounts for an estimated 70 percent of worldwide dementia cases, suggest the World Health Organization (WHO).

The National Institute on Aging acknowledge several causes for Alzheimer’s disease, including some genetic factors. One feature of Alzheimer’s is a mutation of the gene that encodes amyloid precursor protein (APP), which produces amyloid beta peptides. Amyloid beta forms clusters that build up senile plaques in the brain. Further characteristics and the importance of senile plaques to cognitive functioning are still being researched, however.

A new study – led by Dr. Tetyana Zayats and other researchers from the K.G. Jebsen Centre for Neuropsychiatric Disorders in the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Bergen in Norway – has examined further links between APP and the development of cognitive functions in children.

“Our understanding of biological processes underlying synaptic functioning could be expanded by examining human genetics throughout the lifespan as genetic influences may be the driving force behind the stability of our cognitive functioning,” says Dr. Zayats.

 

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