DNA Alzheimer's Disease Test

What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys memory and other important mental functions. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 – 70% of approximately 48 million dementia cases per year. More than 90% of Alzheimer’s cases are the late-onset form, with symptoms not appearing until after 65 years of age.

What causes Alzheimer’s disease?
The cause of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease is currently unknown, but is likely due to a combination of environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors. Variation in the APOE gene is the strongest genetic factor influencing the risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. There are three common variants (alleles) of APOE, known as e2, e3 and e4. Each of us inherit two copies of the APOE gene, and our APOE genotype indicates our risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease:

  • e2/e2 – reduced risk
  • e2/e3 – reduced risk
  • e2/e4 – 3X increased risk
  • e3/e3 – does not affect your risk
  • e3/e4 – 3X increased risk
  • e4/e4 – 10X to 15X increased risk

Brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease, which means that the nerve cells (neurons) are dying in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Two abnormal structures, plaques and tangles, are detected in affected brains and are the prime suspects for increasing cell death and tissue loss. Plaques, made of a protein called beta-amyloid, stop the nerve cells from talking to each other. Tangles form when tau, a protein that normally forms parallel strings inside nerve cells, crumbles down to twisted messes. Without the proper tau tracks, cells are unable to move nutrients and other essential supplies around. It is thought that the build up of plaques and tangles ultimately causes cell death, as seen in Alzheimer’s disease brains.

Warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease

  • Memory loss that disturbs daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgement
  • Withdrawals from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood or personality

Reducing the risk or Alzheimer’s disease
An understanding of an individual’s genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease encourages early monitoring and enables drug treatment to begin at early stages to delay progression of the disease. At-risk individuals should also focus on these six established ways to aid in a healthy elderly life:

  • Nutritious diet
  • Social engagement
  • Adequate sleep
  • Physical activity
  • Mental stimulation
  • Stress management

APOE genetics
The APOE gene encodes for apolipoprotein E, which is involved in transporting fats, neuronal growth, nerve regeneration, immunoregulation and injury repair in the central nervous system.

APOE is on chromosome 19 and each of us has two copies of APOE – one inherited from each parent. There are three forms or alleles of APOEAPOE e2, APOE e3 and APOE e4. We each inherit 1 of 6 possible combinations, known as our APOE genotype.


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