Higher Education May Protect Functioning With Alzheimer Disease

Findings seen among African American individuals, with greater protective effect in APOE ɛ4 noncarriers
Higher Education May Protect Functioning With Alzheimer Disease
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Medically Reviewed By:
Meeta Shah, M.D.

WEDNESDAY, April 3, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Cognitive reserve, as measured by educational attainment (EA), is associated with functional performance in African American individuals with Alzheimer disease (AD) pathology, according to a study published online March 5 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Farid Rajabli, Ph.D., from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues investigated whether levels of education are associated with functional impairments among those with AD pathology, along with variance by APOE ɛ4 carrier status. The analysis included 410 African American individuals.

The researchers found that EA correlated with functional difficulties in African American individuals with high levels of pTau181. Individuals with high EA were significantly more likely to have better functional ability versus those with lower EA (W  =  730.5). This effect of high EA on functional resilience was significantly stronger in ɛ4 noncarriers versus ɛ4 carriers (W =  555.5).

"Learning more about these modifiable risk factors could give us new tools to help people," Rajabli said in a statement. "While education does not prevent the disease, it may delay some of the worst symptoms, potentially adding years of improved cognitive health. In addition, if we can understand the interplay between environment and genetics, we could potentially develop better treatments."

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