- The causes of Alzheimer's disease are still unknown.
- Current research indicates that Alzheimer's disease may be triggered by a multitude of factors, including age, genetic makeup, oxidative damage to neurons from the overproduction of toxic free radicals, serious head injuries, brain inflammation, and environmental factors.
- Age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
- There are two types of the disease: sporadic Alzheimer's disease and familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD). Unlike sporadic Alzheimer's disease, FAD follows an obvious inheritance pattern. Less than ten percent of Alzheimer's disease cases are FAD. This rare form of Alzheimer's disease usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 60.
- On the genetic front, scientists have zeroed in on three mutations on chromosomes 1, 14 and 21 that cause early-onset Alzheimer's disease, which generally affects those aged 30 to 60.
- Other genes boost susceptibility, but do not signal that a person will definitely develop the disease. Multiple research studies indicate that inheritance of a specific one of the three forms, or alleles, of the apolipoprotein E (apoE) gene on chromosome 19 heightens the risk of late-onset Alzheimer's disease. Those who carry one copy of the allele e4 face a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, and those with two copies of e4 confront the greatest risk. Another relatively rare apoE allele, e2, appears linked to a lower risk of the disease.
- Several other studies suggest that a gene or genes on chromosome 10 may also boost an individual's risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease.
For more information, connect with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s licensed social workers. Click here or call 866.AFA.8484. Real People. Real Care.
Alzheimer's Foundation of America 866.AFA.8484