In new research published this week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers trace a link between ApoE4, a cholesterol-carrying protein and a major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s, and SirT1, a human protein targeted by resveratrol, present in red wine.
“This research offers a new type of screen for Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment,” said Rammohan V. Rao, one of the authors of the study. “One of our goals is to identify a safe, non-toxic treatment that could be given to anyone who carries the ApoE4 gene to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s.”
About 25 percent of people are born with ApoE4, yet two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients have the protein. One of the unsolved mysteries of Alzheimer’s is how the protein causes the risk for the incurable, neurodegenerative disease.
Alzheimer’s affects over 5 million Americans and there is no cure or treatment to halt the progression of symptoms that include loss of memory and language.
The new research found that abnormalities associated with ApoE4 and AD, such as the creation of phospho-tau and amyloid-beta, could be prevented by increasing SirT1, such as by drinking more red wine.
Scientists have also identified drug candidates that exert the same effect.
Preventive treatments are particularly needed for the 2.5 percent of the population that carry two genes for ApoE4, increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s tenfold.