Aug 18, 2012

Does Resistance to Dementia Run in the Family?

Wouldn't it be nice to know that you are protected by birth from Alzheimer's and related dementia?

Alzheimer's Reading Room

Does Resistance to Dementia Run in the Family

The research study below indicates that relatives of people who are very elderly, cognitively healthy at an old age, and who have high levels of CRP (C-reactive protein) are relatively likely to remain free of dementia.

The study suggests that high CRP in successful cognitive aging individuals may constitute a phenotype for familial successful cognitive aging.

Whew, you say.

The study might indicate that certain families are protected from dementia; and that, the protection is in their genes.

Wouldn't it be nice to know that you are protected by birth from Alzheimer's and related dementia?

This study is still in an early stage and needs to be replicated. Nevertheless, each little piece of new information that scientists discover add another piece to the puzzle, and any new piece could be the pieces that leads to an effective treatment or cure.

The bottom line resistance to dementia may run in families.

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Resistance to Dementia May Run in the Family

People who are free of dementia and have high levels of a protein that indicates the presence of inflammation have relatives who are more likely to avoid the disease as well, according to a new study publish online in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
“In very elderly people with good cognition, higher levels of C-reactive protein, which is related to inflammation, are associated with better memory,” said study author Jeremy M. Silverman, PhD, with Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “Our results found that the higher the level of this protein in the study participant, the lower the risk for dementia in their parents and siblings.”

For the study, researchers identified 277 male veterans age 75 and older and free of dementia symptoms.

They were given a test that measured levels of the protein. Next, the group was interviewed about 1,329 parents and siblings and whether they had dementia.

A total of 40 relatives from 37 families had dementia.

A secondary, independent group of 51 men age 85 and older with no dementia symptoms were given an interview about 202 relatives for dementia. Nine of the relatives had dementia.

Study investigators found that participants who had higher amounts of the protein were more than 30 percent less likely to have relatives with dementia.

Similar results were found in the secondary group. Since the protein levels were not associated with years of education, marital status, occupation and physical activity, these factors could not account for the lower risks seen.
“This protein is related to worse cognition in younger elderly people. Thus, for very old people who remain cognitively healthy, those with a high protein level may be more resistant to dementia,” said Silverman. “Our study shows that this protection may be passed on to immediate relatives.”

The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the Berkman Charitable Trust and the Alzheimer’s Association.

To learn more about dementia, visit

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 25,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

Bob DeMarco

Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room