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2008 Grants - Schupf
Genetics of Estrogen and Alzheimer's Disease in a Multiethnic Cohort
Nicole Schupf, Ph.D.
Columbia University Medical Center
New York, New York
2008 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Research has shown that estrogen helps protect brain cells against damage caused by Alzheimer's disease. In an effort to identify mechanisms behind this protective ability, scientists have studied the genes that encode proteins involved in estrogen production and activities. Variants in five of these genes—ER-alpha, ER-beta, CYP17, CYP19 and HSD17B1—have been shown to increase the risk of estrogen-related disorders, including Alzheimer's.
Nicole Schupf, Ph.D., and colleagues plan to study the links between estrogen and Alzheimer's disease in a multiethnic group of women from New York City. This group consists largely of older African-American and Hispanic women, populations considered at high risk for developing Alzheimer's. The researchers have collected extensive data on these women, including cognitive tests, brain scans and medical records. They will analyze the data to determine whether variants in the five estrogen-related genes are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's and can predict rates of cognitive decline. The investigators will also determine if the relationships between these genes and Alzheimer's differ among Hispanic, African-American and Caucasian women.
Results of this effort could shed new light on estrogen's role in Alzheimer's disease. Such knowledge could lead to Alzheimer treatments that are more effective across different population groups.