In a newly published study, a multi-institutional team led by scientists at the Indiana University School of Medicine have discovered an immune system gene associated with higher rates of amyloid plaque buildup in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and older adults at risk for the disease.

The research, reported in the journal Brain, found that a variant in the IL1RAP gene was associated with greater amyloid plaque accumulation over two years and had an even stronger effect than the well-known APOE e4 allele which is notorious for its association with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Using positron emission tomography imaging in nearly 500 individuals, the researchers assessed the levels of brain amyloid deposits at an initial visit and again two years later. A genome-wide analysis was then conducted to identify genetic variants associated with the rate of plaque accumulation during this two-year window.

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