Scientists have found a biological clue that could help explain why African-Americans appear to be more vulnerable than white Americans to Alzheimer’s disease.
A study of 1,255 people, both black and white, found that cerebrospinal fluid from African-Americans tended to contain lower levels of a substance associated with Alzheimer’s, researchers report Monday in the journal JAMA Neurology.
Yet these low levels did not seem to protect black participants from the disease.
The finding “implies that the biological mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s disease may be very different in [different] racial groups,” says Dr. John Morris, an author of the paper and director of the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis.
And if Alzheimer’s works differently in African-Americans, that difference could make them more vulnerable to the disease, Morris says.