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Ottavio Arancio

Ottavio Arancio is Associate Professor of Pathology & Cell Biology at the Columbia University Medical Center. He received his Ph.D and M.D. from the University of Pisa in Italy. Dr.[…]

Less than 5% of Alzheimer’s Disease cases are genetically transmitted. The disease is a consequence of aging, and doesn’t target specific demographics.

Question: Is Alzheimer’s inherited rngenetically?

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OttaviornArancio:  With respect tornthat I have to say that less than 5% of Alzheimer’s disease are rngeneticallyrntransmitted, so 95% are not genetically transmitted and generally rnspeaking thernones that are genetically transmitted they tend to occur at earlier agesrn than,rnalthough it is not a general rule, but more often people who have it rnbecause ofrngenetic reasons that 5% of the people… population have it at earlier rnages, butrnonly 5% or less than 5%, about 5, around that number.

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Question: Does the likelihood of rnacquiring Alzheimer’s varyrnacross cultures?

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OttaviornArancio:  It’s not that inrnChina there is more than America or less or in Europe there is more or rnlessrnthan here and there, but there are particular populations that in rnparticularrncircumstances that could lead to dementia and because of the habits of rnthosernyou know populations.  It’s justrnthere are small groups of people. rnFor instance, in the Pacific there were populations that used to rneat thernbrain of the dead people and then they were transferring disease, which rnone ofrnthe symptoms of this disease was dementia and they were all developingrndementia, so over there, there was a higher incidence of dementia just rnbecausernthis habit of eating the brain of the people that were dead the rntherefore likernan infectious disease.  They wererntransferring the disease and there were higher incidence of people rnaffected byrndisease.  Once this was found andrnthis habit was stopped then the incidence of disease became the same as rnwith inrnother populations.

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Question: Who is mostrnlikely to get Alzheimer’s disease?

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OttaviornArancio:  In general yourn know if yournlook at our society there is not a population of people or you know thatrn isrnmore affected by the loss of memory. rnIt is a problem that hits with aging, so something related with rnagingrnand so as we age we get more memory problems.  Obviouslyrn not all people are equal.  There are some who rnhave a better memoryrnthan others, and we do not know why some people have a better memory rnthanrnothers.  I mean we say that the… ifrnwe keep ourselves and our brain exercised just like a muscle then we rntend tornhave less memory problems, so it's kind of protective thernactivity or mental activity.  Evenrnsome people think even physical activity it could be protective against rnthernmemory loss, you know, the loss of memory. rnThat’s what I would have to say. rnObviously there are diseases which are associated. rn The most typical one is Alzheimer’srndisease, which are associated with the loss of memory and others, but ofrn lessrnrelevance and less…

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Question: What form of memory decreases rnthe most with aging?

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OttaviornArancio: The characteristic symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, which isrnreally hallmark of disease, is the loss of what we call short-term rnmemory, sornthat’s how the disease starts actually. rnIt’s people who cannot remember what they just did, just very rnshort termrnmemory loss and that lasts for a very, very long time and progressively rnthernmemory problem gets worse and worse and only at the very late stage or rnAlzheimer’srndisease is when also long term memory is affected, but the major rncharacteristicrnof Alzheimer’s disease, which is a very widespread disease in the rnpopulation,rnespecially at old age, is the loss of short-term memory.

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