Lead investigator Dr. Roger Rosenberg of UTS and Director of this NIA-sponsored ADC, Dr. Ralph Ricther, Director of the Alzheimer s Research Unit, St. John Medical Center, Tulsa, OK, and colleagues, looked at a Cherokee Indian population in Northeastern Oklahoma and determined the degree of Cherokee ancestry and ApoE gene type in 26 people with probable Alzheimer’s disease and in 26 controls. Depending on which of its three forms a person inherits, the ApoE gene may predispose people to Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Rosenberg found that, in this study population, people with Alzheimer’s disease were more likely than the control population to be one-fourth Cherokee or less (38% versus 4% for the control population). Similarly, 50% of normal controls reported three-fourths or greater Cherokee ancestry versus only 12% of those with Alzheimer’s disease. This difference indicates the presence of some form of protection from Alzheimer’s in those with mainly Cherokee ancestry. However, this apparent protection seems to diminish with age.
This scientific communication was accomplished thanks to a close formal collaboration between the authors; Dr. David Kingfisher, Executive Director, Health Services Division, the Cherokee Nation; and physicians working with the Cherokee Nation. Collaborating research centers include St. John Medical Center and University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Tulsa; Health Sciences Division-The Cherokee Nation; H.A. Chapman Institute of Medical Genetics, Tulsa; and University of Washington Medical Center and Gerontology Service, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle.
The National Institute on Aging is the major Federal funding agency for Alzheimer’s disease research, and leads the Federal effort supporting basic, clinical, epidemiological, and social research on aging and the special needs of older people.