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A New Discovery Regarding The Molecular Cause Of Alzheimer’s Disease Might Explain Why Women Are Disproportionately Affected

Monkey Business - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

Over 6 million Americans ages 65 and older are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

But, women specifically make up two-thirds of this figure– with a woman’s estimated lifetime risk of developing AD at 65 years old being just one in five, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

While it has long been known that women disproportionately represent the majority of AD diagnoses– a disease that is fatal and which currently has no approved treatments to halt its progression– scientists have not understood why women are especially at risk.

Recently, though, a new study conducted by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Scripps Research has uncovered one molecular clue.

The study, published just two weeks ago in Science Advances, revealed that women who died from AD had much higher levels of a harmful and chemically modified inflammatory immune protein, known as complement C3, in their brains as compared to men. 

It was also found that estrogen, a hormone that typically drops off in production during menopause, usually protects against the creation of this complement C3 form.

So, the research teams’ findings essentially suggest that a chemical modification of the complement system is a driving risk factor for AD– which begins to explain why the disease predominantly affects older women.

The study was led by Stuart Lipton, MD, Ph.D., who is a professor, chairman of the Scripps Research Department of Molecular Medicine, and a clinical neurologist based in La Jolla, California.

Lipton’s lab, which specifically studies the molecular and biochemical events that are behind neurodegenerative diseases, spearheaded this effort.

Monkey Business – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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