Twins who died after suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease had similar areas of damage to their brains, a project by researchers in California and Sweden concluded.
The scientists studied the brains of seven pairs of twins who died after years of diagnostic tests – among them the brains of identical twins who died at age 98 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The results support previous findings that genetics may determine how vulnerable someone is to Alzheimer’s and other conditions, said University of Southern California psychologist Margaret Gatz, who led the study.
“We looked not just at the hallmark indicators of Alzheimer’s, but at all the other damage in the brain. Across the whole array of neuropathological changes, the identical twins appeared to have more similar pathologies,” Gatz said in announcing the findings. “This is fascinating. It’s not just a key pathology related to the twins’ diagnoses but the combination of things happening in their brains.”
Gatz and Diego Iacono of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute drew their subjects from the Swedish Twin Registry, which Gatz has delved into for decades to study aging. The findings add more data to suggest that rather than a single cause, Alzheimer’s develops from a range of factors that genetics may affect.