HealthDay News — Men who experience the loss of chromosome Y (LOY) from their blood cells as they age may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published online May 23 in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

For the study, Lars Forsberg, PhD, a researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues evaluated blood samples from 3,218 European men, average age 73. Overall, 17% had a detectable LOY in some of their blood cells.

When the researchers focused on men free from Alzheimer’s at the outset, they found that LOY predicted a higher risk of developing the disease. And the greater the loss, the higher the risk: Men missing the chromosome from around 355 of their blood cells were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those with LOY in 10% of their cells.

Since scientists do not fully understand the workings of chromosome Y, the reasons for the link are unclear. But Forsberg speculated that impaired immune function could play a role – since LOY has been tied to cancer risk as well.

Two authors are shareholders in Cray Innovation, with a patent application protecting any commercial utilization arising from this study.

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