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Study assesses racial disparities in Biomarkers for AD

Monday 07 January 2019

On 7 January, researchers from Missouri (United States) published an assessment of racial differences in biomarkers that are used to identify Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the Journal JAMA Neurology. Previous research on potential racial differences of biomarkers in AD yielded mixed and even conflicting results. A new study conducted in the United States, aimed to shed further light into this area. Scientists enrolled a study with 1255 participants, looking at (amongst others) reported family history of dementia, volumes of brain tissue associated with memory functioning (hippocampus), concentrations of tau and Aβ42 (proteins associated with death of brain cells and AD), a genetic risk variance - APOE e4 - for AD as well as race. In addition to other findings, the scientists reported that African Americans have lower levels of tau than non-Hispanic white participants do. The analyses also showed a significant interaction between the genetic risk factor APOE e4 and race. Although the findings are certainly interesting, the researchers also reported some limitations such as the need to explore further potential influences like the socioeconomic status, other diseases that occur along with AD and further factors, which might contribute to the found differences.

Nevertheless, the team underlined in their conclusion, that in light of their findings, future research on molecular biomarkers of AD should gather information on race and statistical analyses could improve their accuracy by adjusting for it. Furthermore, since the team only looked at differences in African Americans and non-Hispanic white participants, they recommend the implementation of studies that look at the expression of biomarkers of AD across all racial and ethnic groups.