Cholesterol-transporting molecule may increase Alzheimer’s risk

A jigsaw puzzle in the shape of a brain. One piece is taken out.

May 13, 2024 – Having higher levels of a certain lipoprotein—a molecule that helps carry fat around the body—may increase people’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of Mississippi.

The study, published in the journal Communications Biology, was featured in an April 24 article by the University of Mississippi.

The researchers focused on a molecule called apolipoprotein B-100, or APOB, which is a major component of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—also known as “bad” cholesterol. They analyzed genetic data from 21,982 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and 41,944 individuals without. They found that higher APOB levels were linked with shorter healthspans—the time between birth and the development of chronic disease—and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“The method that we used, Mendelian randomization, removes many of the problems that happen in correlational research. For instance, using Mendelian randomization reduced the chance that something else was responsible for the signal we saw between higher apolipoprotein and Alzheimer’s,” said co-author Charleen Adams, research fellow in environmental health at Harvard Chan School. She added that future research is needed to identify the specific biological mechanism that increases Alzheimer’s risk.

Other Harvard Chan School co-authors of the study were Leah Martin, PhD student in the Population Health Sciences program, and Carmen Messerlian, assistant professor of environmental reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric epidemiology.

Read the study: Mendelian randomization reveals apolipoprotein B shortens healthspan and possibly increases risk for Alzheimer’s disease

Read the University of Mississippi article: High level of fat-transporting molecule linked to Alzheimer’s

– Jay Lau

Image: iStock/Makhbubakhon Ismatova