News Release
  July 16, 2013

CONTACT:

Kim Menard

215-662-6183
kim.menard@uphs.upenn.edu

Perelman School of Medicine


This release is available online at
http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2013/07/karlawish/

Highest Risk Alzheimer's Genetic Carriers Take Positive Steps After Learning Risk Status

No Signs of Increased Distress, Anxiety After Learning Alzheimer's Risk Status, Penn-led Study Shows

BOSTON — People who found out they carried an uncommon genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease did not experience more anxiety, depression or distress than non-carriers, and were more active in efforts to reduce their risk of Alzheimer's disease -by exercising, eating a healthy diet and taking recommended vitamins and medications - report researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania today at the 2013 Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC). Researchers note that this study will inform how research studies and clinical practices reveal genetic and other risk factors to people interested in being tested in the future.

"This study informs our understanding of the impact of people finding out their genetic risk for Alzheimer's in the absence of any treatments to prevent dementia," said lead study author Jason Karlawish, MD, professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics and Health Policy in Penn's Perelman School of Medicine. "We saw that, following their genetic counseling session, people took positive steps to mitigate their Alzheimer's risk, such as following a healthy diet and exercising. They might also be willing to join an Alzheimer’s dementia prevention trial.”

As part of the NIH-funded REVEAL study led by Robert Green, MD, at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an analysis of 648 people tested for the Alzheimer's disease genetic risk marker APOe4 was conducted, where participants learned their risk estimate, based on genotype, gender, ethnicity and family history. Only 4 percent of participants (28 people) were in the highest risk group, carrying two copies of APOe4, while 34 percent (221) had a single copy of the gene and 62 percent (399) carried no genetic risk marker.

After a year of following the three groups, there was no inflated perceived risk of getting Alzheimer's disease, nor was there any significant difference between groups for scores on anxiety, depression and test-related distress.

"What is the experience of being an APOE4 homozygote? Findings from the REVEAL Study" by Karlawish et al will be presented on Tuesday, July 16 at 12:00pm ET. The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (HG002213, HG005092, HG006500 and AG027841.

###

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2013 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2013, Penn Medicine provided $814 million to benefit our community.