Researchers Suggest Another Clue As To Why Women May Be More Prone To Alzheimer's Than Men

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, and women are more likely to develop the condition than men. Now, new research suggests that one reason for this gender disparity may be due to a specific enzyme. The study, conducted by Case Western Reserve University, found that women have higher levels of ubiquitin-specific peptidase, an enzyme that removes a protein tag called ubiquitin from proteins (via Healthline). Ubiquitin targets a specific protein to be removed, but when ubiquitin itself is removed, proteins can accumulate. Because women have higher amounts of this enzyme, they have an increased risk of protein buildup, which is one of the main components of Alzheimer's disease.

"This is a cutting-edge finding," Shae Datta, MD, the co-director of NYU Langone's Concussion Center and director of cognitive neurology at NYU Langone Hospital in Long Island. "We've known for some time there is a 1.7 times higher likelihood of women having higher tau burden and increased incidence of Alzheimer's, and now we potentially know why." Scientists say that this study brings a lot of hope, as pinpointing a main factor in the disease puts experts one step closer to figuring out how to prevent and even cure Alzheimer's.

What we know about Alzheimer's

​​Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. The cause of Alzheimer's is not fully understood, but it is thought to involve a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors (via Mayo Clinic). Age is the greatest risk factor for the disease. Other risk factors include family history, previous head injury, and cardiovascular disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer's typically begin with mild memory problems that gradually worsen over time. As the disease progresses, people may experience difficulty with language, disorientation, mood swings, and behavioral changes. In the later stages of the disease, people may become bedridden and require 24-hour care. There is no known cure for Alzheimer's disease, but there are treatments available to help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. These treatments include medications, lifestyle changes, and support services.