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PLOS Science Wednesday: Hi reddit, I'm Ole Andreassen and my colleagues and I developed and vali

View the entire Ask Me Anything (AMA) here.

Highlights: Hi Reddit,My name is Ole Andreassen and I am a Professor in Psychiatry at University of Oslo. I have also a clinical position where I see patients regularly in the outpatient clinic at Oslo University Hospital. My research focuses on severe mental illness and neurodegenerative diseases.We recently published an article titled Genetic assessment of age-associated Alzheimer’s disease risk: development and validation of a polygenic hazard score in PLOS Medicine. In this paper, we describe the development and validation of a new genetic score to predict Alzheimer's disease age of onset. Our results show that genetic data can be combined with epidemiological information on dementia incidence rates from the US population to derive a score that can predict age-specific risk for Alzheimer's disease.

Q: TinyTurtleHats:

I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer's and my father just turned 60 and is already exhibiting some of the early signs. I have the same questions since I seem to be genetically predisposed to it as well.

A: PLOS Science Wednesday Guest - Rahul Desikan:

Speaking from personal clinical experience, I think knowing that you are at high risk for an incurable disease can really help you think about what is important in your life. I know several patients who, after learning that they are in the early stages of dementia, decided to spend more time at home with their families, less time at work, one even decided to travel the world, another made his will.


Q: AlwaysUnite:

It is my understanding of Alzheimer's is that it has a strong environmental component. Especially diet seems to play a role with some research even going so far as calling the disease preventable on a plant based diet. This is supported by age corrected epidemiology of groups in the Third World and groups on non-standard diets in the developed world. My question then: This genetic predictor of age of onset, is it or could it be linked to additional environmental predictors to come to a complete picture? And if not, how useful is this predictor for groups who eat healthier than standard diets such as vegetarians, those on plant based diets (upwards of 95% plant based) and vegans?

A: PLOS Science Wednesday Guest - Rahul Desikan:

Great question and the answer is we don't know. Great paper in NEJM earlier this year showing that even among people with high polygenic risk, a favorable lifestyle resulted in good coronary heart disease outcome: we are now exploring whether something similar occurs with AD.

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