Genetic evidence for the role of antioxidants in Alzheimer’s disease

A scientist holding a plastic model of a molecule

By Ed Pinches | Wednesday 16 September 2020

New research published today (Wednesday 16 September) in the journal Neurology suggests genetic evidence for the role of the antioxidant, glutathione.

What did the researchers investigate?

The researchers looked at information collected from 486 people who are part of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) – a long-running dementia study.

They looked at the genetic makeup of people with Alzheimer’s disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) – early stage memory and thinking problems – as well as healthy volunteers. The researchers also tested people’s memory and thinking.

What did the researchers find?

The Korean researchers found a change on chromosome 6 that was strongly linked with poorer thinking skills as well as four other changes where the link was weaker.

Analysing the locations of these changes in chromosome 6, the team identified that the genes are related to glutathione metabolism.

What our expert said:

Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Alzheimer’s is a physical disease, influenced by a complex mix of age, genetics and lifestyle factors. While two proteins, amyloid and tau, go awry in the brain during the disease, new genetic insight suggests that antioxidants may have a role to play.

“The researchers in this study found DNA changes in genes on chromosome 6 linked with poorer memory and thinking skills. In recent decades, genetic clues like this have been vital for uncovering new areas of biology to explore in the search for new treatments for dementia. This study provides an intriguing platform for further research to continue to unravel the complex role our genes play in the development of the diseases that cause dementia.

“While Alzheimer’s is not an inevitable part of getting older, important research shows that lifestyle changes can benefit everyone regardless of a person’s genetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A healthy lifestyle includes staying physically active, eating a healthy diet, drinking within recommended guidelines, and not smoking.”

About the author

Ed Pinches