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Gender differences in dementia risk suggest link to brain proteins

Gender-specific differences between protein levels in the brains of men and women with dementia have been revealed in a new study.

Previous research has shown that women have a higher risk of dementia than men, but no obvious explanation for this was given. Now researchers in Singapore have used proteomics the large scale study of proteins, including their variations and changes to demonstrate the differences between the levels and structures of proteins present in the white matter and the mitochondria of the brain, the part involved in visual memory and the understanding of language.

Picture credit: iStockphoto

The study analysed thousands of proteins in post-mortem brain tissues from five males and five females with dementia, and ten healthy controls. Protein changes thought to cause function loss similar to the way steel loses strength when rusting were more pronounced in women than men. The findings could lead to the development of new treatments, the researchers said.

Study author Xavier Gallart-Palau said that proteomics can detect differences

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Previous research has shown that women have a higher risk of dementia than men, but no obvious explanation for this was given. Now researchers in Singapore have used proteomics – the large scale study of proteins, including their variations and changes – to demonstrate the differences between the levels and structures of proteins present in the white matter and the mitochondria of the brain, the part involved in visual memory and the understanding of language.

Picture credit: iStockphoto

The study analysed thousands of proteins in post-mortem brain tissues from five males and five females with dementia, and ten healthy controls. Protein changes thought to cause function loss – similar to the way steel loses strength when rusting – were more pronounced in women than men. The findings could lead to the development of new treatments, the researchers said.

Study author Xavier Gallart-Palau said that ‘proteomics can detect differences between male and female dementia patients on a molecular level which cannot be detected by standard approaches’.

Co-author Sze Siu Kwan said: ‘The number of dementia patients is projected to triple by 2050, and there is an urgent need to identify key mechanisms of how dementia develops. Our findings could lead to the development of drugs for its treatment.’

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