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First reported this past April by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and as an article in the Lancet Neurology, researchers have used brain imaging to find that an area associated with Alzheimer’s disease is thinner in certain individuals with the ApoE gene.

It is not clear if the ApoE gene is a precursor that indicates an individual is likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life or if the thinning is a harmless genetic variation. Young adults with the thinning of the cortex area (that relates to Alzheimer’s condition) do not show a loss of intellectual ability. However, adults who have developed Alzheimer’s disease tend to have a thinning of the cortex in the area that is affected by the ApoE gene.

Researchers believe only a long-term study that follows the young adults with the ApoE gene into later life will determine if in fact the condition predisposes a person to developing Alzheimer’s.