Longevity Gene Could Slow Cognitive Loss and Dementia

As people grow older they experience memory loss and progressive decline in brain function. However it was found through latest research that people who possess the ”longevity gene” suffer less cognitive loss and are more protected against Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The longevity gene was bought into spotlight by Richard B. Lipton at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. This gene could help you lead a long life, apparently protecting the brain. The Longevity Genes Project by the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, investigated people who live exceptionally long lives. For this they considered 158 people of Ashkenazi, or Eastern European Jewish, descent who were 95 years of age or older. They chose Ashkenazi Jews since current generations stem from a relatively limited number of ancestors. This means they have a comparatively uniform genetic makeup, making it easier to identify important genetic differences. The scientists gave these volunteers a common test of mental function, consisting of 30 questions. Correctly answering 25 of the questions meant a subject passed the test. Those centenarians who passed were two to three times more likely to have a common variant of a particular gene, called the CETP gene, than those who did not. When the researchers studied another 124 Ashkenazi Jews between 75 and 85 years of age, those subjects who passed the test of mental function were five times more likely to have this gene variant than their counterparts.
The CETP gene variant makes cholesterol particles in the blood larger than normal. The researchers suggest smaller particles can more readily lodge in the lining of blood vessels, leading to fatty buildups, which are a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
Researchers suspected a possible role of this gene in protection against age-related illnesses, including both memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease. For their study they considered 523 participants from the Einstein Aging Study, an ongoing federally funded project that has followed a racially and ethnically diverse population of elderly Bronx residents for 25 years. It was discovered that people who possessed two copies of the CETP gene variant had slower memory loss and were 70%less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia compared to people who lacked both copies of the longevity gene.Dr. Lipton explains that the variant of the gene alters CETP protein in such a way that it functions less efficiently than usual. Researchers are now in an effort to find drugs that have similar effects on the protein which could help in the treatment against Alzheimer’s disease.