Education could delay cognitive decline even in people with Alzheimer’s gene

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Researchers from Mass General Brigham have published a study in Nature Communications that suggests educational attainment may play a significant role in delaying cognitive decline, even for individuals with a genetic predisposition for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is often linked to mutations such as PSEN1 E280A. Carriers of this mutation generally experience the onset of dementia around the median age of 49.

The researchers analyzed data from 675 individuals carrying this mutation to understand the influence of genetics and education on cognitive decline.

The study found that carriers of the PSEN1 E280A mutation who also carried a second mutation—APOE e4—experienced accelerated cognitive decline.

However, those carrying an APOE e2 mutation, which is known to be protective, had a delayed onset of cognitive impairment.

Importantly, higher educational attainment was found to be associated with preserved cognitive function, especially for those at the highest genetic risk.

“Higher educational attainment may have a protective effect against cognitive impairment, even in the presence of strong genetic risk factors,” said corresponding author Yakeel Quiroz, Ph.D. This indicates that while genetics are important, they are not the sole determinant in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Education may serve as a “cognitive reserve,” helping to protect the brain against degeneration.


The study suggests that investing in education could be a significant step in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, even among those who are genetically predisposed.

It highlights the multifactorial nature of Alzheimer’s and suggests that a holistic approach that considers both genetic and lifestyle factors is crucial for understanding and combating this debilitating disease.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about Scientists find the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease and findings of This eye disease linked to higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about dementia and health, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, and higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.

The research findings can be found in Nature Communications.

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