A resistance to dementia may be a family legacy, according to new research.
“In very elderly people with good cognition, higher levels of C-reactive protein, which is related to inflammation, are associated with better memory,” said study author Jeremy M. Silverman, Ph.D., with Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
“Our results found that the higher the level of this protein in the study participant, the lower the risk for dementia in their parents and siblings.”
For the study, researchers identified 277 male veterans age 75 and older who were free of dementia symptoms. They were given a test that measured levels of the C-reactive protein. The participants were then interviewed about their parents and siblings and whether they had dementia.
A total of 40 relatives from 37 families had dementia. A second, independent group of 51 men age 85 and older with no dementia symptoms also were interviewed, revealing that nine relatives had dementia.
The researchers found that participants who had higher amounts of the C-reactive protein were more than 30 percent less likely to have relatives with dementia. Similar results were found in the secondary group.
“This protein is related to worse cognition in younger elderly people. Thus, for very old people who remain cognitively healthy, those with a high protein level may be more resistant to dementia,” explained Silverman. “Our study shows that this protection may be passed on to immediate relatives.”
The study was published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Source: American Academy of Neurology