Not all of the risk factors that predispose to developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but scientists try to find those that are modifiable to prevent or delay their onset. Now a new study has found an association between having a genetic predisposition to high levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is considered ‘good’ cholesterol, and high systolic blood pressure and increased chances of suffering from this type of dementia. The findings have been published in JAMA Network Open.
The research has been carried out by the Dr. Jiao Luofrom Copenhagen-Rigshospitalet University Hospital in Denmark and colleagues, who conducted a genetic association study using two-sample univariate and multivariate Mendelian randomization to analyze potentially causal aspects of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s.
The investigators selected independent genetic variants associated with modifiable risk factors as instrumental variables. Outcome data were obtained from the European Alzheimer and Dementia Biobank (EADB). This cohort included 39,106 and 401,577 with clinically diagnosed Alzheimer’s and people without the disease, respectively.
The role of genetics in Alzheimer’s disease
When they compared the genetics of each participant, they found that those people who had certain genes that predispose to higher levels of HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol, were slightly more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. They found a similar increased risk for people with the genes responsible for higher systolic blood pressure.
“These findings may inspire new drug targets and better early prevention of dementia”
The increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s was about 10% for each standard deviation increase in HDL cholesterol. And for every 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) increase in systolic blood pressure, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases 1.22 times. They found no evidence of genetic associations with other lipid traits, nor that body mass index (BMI), alcohol use, smoking, or diabetes increased the odds of developing Alzheimer’s.
Augustine Ruiz, director of Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona, who has participated in the research, told Infosalus that “it is possible that the observed relationship is limited to very high levels of HDL, something that has also been shown to be harmful, increasing mortality from cardiovascular complications ”. “In any case, we need more research to understand these observations.”
And he adds that “these findings can inspire new therapeutic targets and improve prevention, likewise, they corroborate a genetic nexus that connects the biology of cholesterol, blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease.” “These findings may inspire new drug targets and better early prevention of dementia,” the authors conclude.