Brain tissue has yielded the first evidence of an association between Alzheimer’s disease and changes in the way some genes function. But it is not yet clear if the changes lead to the disease or occur as a result of it – or are simply a natural part of ageing.
There is already some evidence that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s rises with poor diet, a lack of exercise and inflammatory conditions such as diabetes. Two independent teams, one in the UK and one in the US, now suggest that these factors can raise the risk by triggering epigenetic changes. Such changes – which may also be brought about by stress – don’t alter the sequence of DNA that someone has inherited. Instead, they affect how genes function. Epigenetic changes have previously been linked to cancer and mental disorders.
Read more at New Scientist.