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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

News Release

UCI discovers new Alzheimer's gene

TOMM40 increases risk of developing the disease

— Irvine, Calif., August 6, 2009 —

A UC Irvine study has found that a gene called TOMM40 appears twice as often in people with Alzheimer's disease than in those without it. Alzheimer's, for which there is no cure, is the leading cause of elderly dementia.

Having the harmful form of TOMM40 significantly increases one's susceptibility when other risk factors - such as having a gene called ApoE-4 - are present, the new study reports. People who have ApoE-4 are three to eight times more likely to develop Alzheimer's.

"The TOMM40 gene influences the ease with which molecules can get in and out of mitochondria, the energy production center and stress mediator of cells. TOMM40 also processes materials that form amyloid plaque, a hallmark of Alzheimer's," said Dr. Steven Potkin, lead author of the study and UCI psychiatry & human behavior professor.

"With aging, the number and function of mitochondria decrease, accompanied by a parallel increased risk of developing Alzheimer's," he said. "This study points to the use of mitochondrial-based therapies for treating the disease."

The study will be published Aug. 7 in the journal PLoS One.

Supporting the UCI discovery is research presented recently at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Austria. Duke University scientists found that patients with TOMM40 developed Alzheimer's an average of seven years earlier than those without the gene.

In addition to Potkin, who is also the Robert R. Sprague Chair in Brain Imaging and director of UCI's Brain Imaging Center, UCI scientists Dr. Fabio Macciardi, Guia Guffanti, Dr. Anita Lakatos, Jessica Turner, Dr. Frithjof Kruggel and James Fallon worked on this study.

They collaborated with Andrew Saykin of Indiana University, Dr. Michael Weiner of UC San Francisco and Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative patients and investigators.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, the National Institute on Aging, the National Center for Research Resources and an anonymous foundation.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,200 staff. The top employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion. For more UCI news, visit http://today.uci.edu/.

News Radio: UCI maintains on campus an ISDN line for conducting interviews with its faculty and experts. Use of this line is available for a fee to radio news programs/stations that wish to interview UCI faculty and experts. Use of the ISDN line is subject to availability and approval by the university.

Dr. Steven Potkin
A new study by Dr. Steven Potkin reports that a gene called TOMM40 appears twice as often in people with Alzheimer's disease than in those without it.
Photo by Daniel A. Anderson / University Communications

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University Communications
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clawhon@uci.edu

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