A genetic mutation may explain why Alzheimer’s is for Women and Autism is for Men.
Some researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel are adding new insights to what has been understood about the causes of autism and Alzheimer’s disease. It turns out that a mutation in a brain protein called ADNP can cause variations in neurologic development, indicative of gender differences in the risk of developing either autism or Alzheimer’s disease. This could very well explain why more males are autistic, and more females develop Alzheimer’s. The results were published in the February 3, 2015 issue of Translational Psychiatry. (See Abstract and Full Text).
ANDP stands for Activity-Dependent Neuroprotective Protein, and it has been shown to have a neuroprotective effect in patients with autism, and to be decreased in the serum of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. These researchers show that ADNP acts differently in males and females. The study revealed that mice who had altered ADNP showed learning and memory differences, different behaviors, and different cognitive abilities, based on the sex of the mouse.
The authors suggest that by investigating these differences further, drugs and other treatments may be developed that will need to be gender specific.
SGWHC applauds these authors for being cognizant of the importance of stratifying all research by the sex of the animal. How many other diseases, especially those that are more common in one sex, will need to be studied in this way?