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Event Date: 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - 12:00pm

Event Location: 

WARF 758

Contact Info: 

Rosalind Bendix-Lewis, (608) 265-0516

PHS 820 Graduate Student Seminar- Eva Vasiljevic, Population Health PhD Student: "Behavioral factor modification of genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease"


We aim to determine if behavioral factors including exercise, sleep quality, diet, and cognitive engagement modify a person’s cumulative genetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). These behavioral factors have been associated with a lower risk of AD, but we do not know if they can lower this risk if a person is genetically predisposed to the disease.

We examine the effect of a polygenic risk score for AD, a composite behavioral score, and their interaction on beta-Amyloid accumulation in the brain, which is a biomarker for AD. Analyses were performed on a subset of participants (n = 197) from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention, a longitudinal study of adults (aged 36 – 73 years at baseline) who were initially asymptomatic. The sample is enriched for participants with a parental history of AD.

Preliminary results indicate that the polygenic score and the lifestyle composite score are not predictive of beta-Amyloid accumulation in the brain.

Next Steps
We are still researching how to best model behavioral factors and how to combine them into a composite score. The polygenic score used in these analyses is a preliminary one and needs to be updated with an appropriate linkage disequilibrium reference panel.

This work is in the preliminary stages of development.