Pathological uptake of tau, to the left. A healthy brain, to the right.
Pathological uptake of tau, to the left. A healthy brain, to the right.

Photo: Ruben Smith

Neurodegeneration research

Alzheimer's: Faster accumulation of tau protein in women's brains

Alzheimer’s disease seems to progress faster in women than in men. The protein tau accumulates at a higher rate in women, according to research from Lund University in Sweden.

The study was recently published in Brain. Over 30 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease worldwide, making it the most common form of dementia. Tau and beta-amyloid are two proteins known to aggregate and accumulate in the brain in patients with Alzheimer’s.

The first protein to aggregate in Alzheimer’s is beta-amyloid. Men and women are equally affected by the first disease stages, and the analysis did not show any differences in the accumulation of beta-amyloid. Memory dysfunction arises later, when tau starts to accumulate. More women than men are affected by memory problems due to Alzheimer’s, and it was for tau that the researchers found a higher rate of accumulation in women. “Tau accumulation rates vary greatly between individuals of the same sex, but in the temporal lobe, which is affected in Alzheimer’s disease, we found a 75% higher accumulation rate in women as a group compared to men,” explains Ruben Smith, first author of the study.

Our study strongly indicates that the faster spread of tau makes women more prone to develop dementia because of Alzheimer’s pathology compared to men. Future experimental studies will be important to understand the reasons behind this

Oskar Hansson

The accumulation of tau is faster in patients who already have a pathological accumulation of beta-amyloid, and are in the early phase of the disease. The discovery that the accumulation rate of tau is higher in women remained even after adjusting for age and the levels of tau they had at the beginning. Together with data from three similar cohorts in the USA, the project contains 209 women and 210 men. “The next step would be to examine why this accumulation is faster in women,” says Sebastian Palmqvist, the researcher responsible for the cognitive assessment of the patients. 

The study did not investigate the reasons for the higher rate of tau accumulation in women. “Our study strongly indicates that the faster spread of tau makes women more prone to develop dementia because of Alzheimer’s pathology compared to men. Future experimental studies will be important to understand the reasons behind this,” concludes Professor Oskar Hansson.


Source: Lund University

26.03.2021

Read all latest stories

Related articles

Photo

Medication development platform

Smart biomarkers to find new drugs against brain diseases

Dr. Hayder Amin and Dr. Caghan Kizil from the DZNE’s Dresden site aim to speed up developing drugs against brain diseases through cutting-edge technology. To this end, they are generating an…

Photo

Battle for the brain

New Alzheimer's treatment approach targets tau

A new idea for treating Alzheimer’s disease could eradicate the toxic proteins most closely linked to cognitive decline in the places where they do the most damage, a study from researchers at…

Photo

Tau pathology in the brain

Defining the 4 subtypes of Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease is characterized by the abnormal accumulation and spread of the tau protein in the brain. An international study can now show how tau spreads according to four distinct patterns…

Related products

mediaire – mdbrain

Artificial Intelligence

mediaire – mdbrain

mediaire GmbH
Sarstedt – Low DNA Binding Micro Tubes

Research Use Only (RUO)

Sarstedt – Low DNA Binding Micro Tubes

SARSTEDT AG & CO. KG
Shimadzu – CLAM-2030

Research Use Only (RUO)

Shimadzu – CLAM-2030

Shimadzu Europa GmbH
Subscribe to Newsletter