Accumulating evidence suggests that tau spreads through brain tissue like an infection, traveling from neuron to neuron and turning other proteins into abnormal tangles, subsequently killing brain cells.
A new study using brain scans of healthy individuals and patients with MCI has found that the architecture of tau networks is different in men and women, with women having a larger number of regions that connect various communities in the brain. This difference may allow tau to spread more easily between regions, boosting the speed at which it accumulates and putting women at greater risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.
Gender & APOE status affects tau accumulation
A study involving 131 cognitively healthy older adults (mean age 77) and 97 with MCI, found that women with MCI who were ApoE ε4 carriers were more susceptible than men to tau accumulation in the brain. However, no gender differences were found among the cognitively healthy adults.
The findings of the first study were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference July 14-18, 2019, in Los Angeles.
The second study was presented by Manish Paranjpe at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), Abstract 253: "Sex Modulates the ApoE ε4 Effect on Tau 18F-AV-1451 PET Imaging in Individuals with Normal Aging and Mild Cognitive Impairment," Manish Paranjpe, Min Liu, Ishan Paranjpe, Rongfu Wang, Tammie Benzinger and Yun Zhou.