Female specific risk factors for the development of Alzheimer's disease neuropathology and cognitive impairment: Call for a precision medicine approach

Chinedu Udeh-Momoh*, Tamlyn Watermeyer*, Female Brain health and Endocrine Research (FEMBER) consortium

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD) includes a long asymptomatic stage, which precedes the formal diagnosis of dementia. AD biomarker models provide a framework for precision medicine approaches during this stage. However, such approaches have ignored the possible influence of sex on cognition and brain health, despite female sex noted as a major risk factor. Since AD-related changes may emerge in midlife, intervention efforts are being redirected around this period. Midlife coincides with several endocrinological changes, such as the menopausal transition experienced by women. In this narrative review, we discuss evidence for sex-differences in AD neuropathological burden and outline key endocrinological mechanisms for both sexes, focussing on hormonal events throughout the lifespan that may influence female susceptibility to AD neuropathology and dementia onset. We further consider common non-modifiable (genetic) and modifiable (lifestyle and health) risk factors, highlighting possible sex-dependent differential effects for the AD disease course. Finally, we evaluate the studies selected for this review demonstrating sex-differences in cognitive, pathological and health factors, summarising the state of sex differences in AD risk factors. We further provide recommendations for targeted research on female-specific risk factors, to inform personalised strategies for AD-prevention and the promotion of female brain health.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101459
Number of pages15
JournalAgeing research reviews
Volume71
Early online date8 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

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