A gene linked to obesity may also cause Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.
Obesity causes brains to shrink – increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life, researchers say
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found the same gene — allele, from the fat mass and obesity associated gene, the FTO gene, which increases risk of gaining weight — is also linked to brain shrinkage.
The researchers generated three-dimensional “maps” of brain volume differences in 206 healthy elderly subjects using magnetic resonance imaging from 58 sites in the United States.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found consistently less brain tissue — up to less than 12 percent of some parts of the brain — in those with the FTO allele compared with non-carriers of the variant.
In addition, the study said the differences of brain volume could not be directly attributed to other obesity-related factors such as cholesterol levels, diabetes or high blood pressure.
“If you have the bad FTO gene, your weight affects your brain adversely in terms of tissue loss,” Thompson said in a statement. “If you don’t carry FTO, higher body weight doesn’t translate into brain deficits.”
A Spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Society said: “We’ve known for some time that there’s a link between obesity in mid life and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. However this study suggests that healthy people who carry a specific DNA sequence associated with obesity could be at a greater risk of developing dementia.
“This is a relatively small study but the findings support the need for more research. One million people will develop dementia in the next 10 years but dementia research is desperately under-funded, however with the right investment, it can be defeated