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Genes, Stroke and Dementia

Genes, Stroke and Dementia
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Aside from affecting the health of the brain, both stroke and dementia are unfortunately very common; various forms of dementia afflict millions of Americans, whereas stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. A recent study has concluded that these two might share something else in common ‒ a link to a specific gene.

An International Project

This report represented a collaborative effort between several educational institutions, including Boston University School of Medicine, University of Calgary and France’s University of Bordeaux. The authors certainly cast a wide net, examining data from nearly 85,000 people collected over a sixty-five year period (1948 through 2013). Roughly five percent of this group (4,300) had a past history of stroke.

Using DNA analysis, the study documented  the genetic differences between stroke sufferers and non-stroke subjects. A total of seven genes were determined to be associated with greater stroke risk, among them a new gene called FOXF2. Unlike its other troublesome counterparts, the FOXF2 gene was found to increase a person’s likelihood of all types of stroke.

One Gene, Many Problems?

According to the authors, those with FOXF2 faced a greater likelihood of stroke due to small vessel disease in the brain. Such strokes are not only common, but also frequently go undetected. The study further noted that small vessel disease appeared to be involved in the onset of dementia, as well as glaucoma, walking difficulties and depression.

The authors contend that their work could lay the groundwork for future advances in stroke treatment and prevention. “Unraveling the mechanisms of small vessel disease is essential for the development of therapeutic and preventive strategies for this major cause of stroke,” wrote study investigator Dr. Sudha Seshadri. The report appeared in the online version of the journal Lancet Neurology.

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