(HealthDay News) – For white middle-aged adults, there may be an association between variants in a gene associated with fat mass and obesity (FTO) and memory decline.

Jan Bressler, PhD, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and colleagues analyzed data from 15,792 individuals aged 45–64 years at baseline (1986–1989) participating in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. General linear models were used to assess the association between the six-year change in scores on three neuropsychological tests and FTO genotype.

The researchers found that, among 8,364 white and 2,083 African-American men and women with no clinical history of stroke, there was a significantly greater mean change in performance on the Delayed Word Recall Test which was associated with two of four FTO single nucleotide polymorphisms examined. This association was seen in whites but not in African-Americans and was independent of potential confounding variables, including age, gender, education, diabetes, hypertension, and body mass index.

“Further studies will be needed to clarify the biological mechanisms and genetic pathways through which variants in FTO can increase susceptibility to decline in verbal memory detectable in middle-aged, community-dwelling adults,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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