Health & Medicine

UC Davis to co-lead $14.7 million study of dementia in U.S. Hispanics

A UC Davis neurology researcher will share the lead in a $14.7 million, multiyear study examining the causes of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia among Latinos in the United States, university officials announced Tuesday. The work is being funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Charles S. DeCarli, director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, will serve as co-principal investigator along with Hector M. Gonzalez, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University. They and a team of people across 10 universities will draw upon data from the ongoing Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos and the Study of Latinos-Investigation of Neurocognitive Aging. In those studies, more than 16,000 patients already are helping to provide information on genetic, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.

“Latinos are the fastest-growing minority population in our aging population,” DeCarli said in a UC Davis news release. “So cognitive impairment in this group is an important public-health concern.”

He described his research as “the largest study of Latinos with cognitive impairment ever done.” The U.S. Latino population has a higher prevalence of diabetes, hypertension and obesity when compared with non-Hispanic Caucasians, he said, and those chronic illnesses are all risk factors for stroke and dementia.

In the cases of non-Hispanic Caucasians, researchers have linked a common gene variant to increased risk of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, but U.S. Hispanics show a very low frequency of the so-called E4 variant. The new study will allow researchers to look at other factors that could indicate a risk of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

“What else is going on than genetics?” DeCarli asked in the news release. “This grant will help us to advance this and many other interesting lines of research in this very ethnically and genetically diverse population group.”

Other institutions participating in the study are New York City’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, San Diego State University, the University of Illinois, University of Miami, University of North Carolina, University of Texas Science Center, University of Washington and Wayne State University.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee

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