Neurologists explain Chris Hemsworth’s ‘shocking’ Alzheimer’s news

Neurologists explain Chris Hemsworth’s ‘shocking’ Alzheimer’s news

Theo Wargo

Chris Hemsworth Friday revealed that she has two genes that put her at greater risk Alzheimer’s disease Compared to the average person, but neurologists tell The Daily Beast that’s not necessarily a cause for alarm.

The revelation It’s time for a recent episode of Hemsworth’s National Geographic series unlimitedAiring on Disney+, it aims to “provide fascinating insights into how we can all unlock our bodies’ superpowers to fight disease, perform better and even reverse the aging process.”

In episode five titled “Memory,” Dr. Peter Attia tells the Australian actor that he has two copies of the APOE4 gene, one from his mother and one from his father. This makes him 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than the average person, Attia said. Hemsworth has a somber reaction to the news as he adjusts his posture and pays close attention to the doctor’s words. During a later filmed confession, he says he was “on the floor”.

The information was apparently so sensitive that Attia called unlimited Producer Darren Aronofsky wanted to tell him he wanted to break the news in person instead of on camera, Hemsworth said. Vanity Fairadding that the whole thing was “quite shocking”.

Only 2 to 3 percent of people have both copies of the gene, said Dr. Corinne Pettigrew, leader of outreach, recruitment and engagement at the Johns Hopkins Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

And that doesn’t mean Hemsworth is guaranteed to develop the illness.

For beginners, a crash course on genes can be helpful. The gene for Apolipoprotein E, or APOE, tells your body how to make a protein of the same name, which helps metabolize fat and carry cholesterol around your body. Gene variants, or alleles, come in APOE2, APOE3, and APOE4.

Dr. Lawrence S. Honig, professor of neurology at Columbia University and director of the New York State Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease, said the APOE4 gene carries “the worst possible risk for Alzheimer’s disease.”

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“It’s true that having one or two APOE4 increases the risk, but it’s not deterministic, so we generally don’t think it’s useful to test for it except in a research setting,” Honig tells The Daily Beast.

Both Honig and Sam Gandy, professor of neurology and director of the Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health, emphasize that a good portion of Alzheimer’s patients—from one-third to one-half—don’t have the APOE4 gene.

“Not everyone with two copies gets Alzheimer’s,” Gandy says. “There are rare people who survive it. Diet and lifestyle are important.”

Also important is prevention of the worst effects of genes, which some seem to have more than others. “They can carry what we call resilience genes,” Gandy says.

Although the exact link between APOE4 and Alzheimer’s has not been established, studies show links between the gene and the formation of amyloid plaques and tau “tangles,” both considered signs of Alzheimer’s. The gene also disrupts the blood-brain barrier. “It is important that blood proteins are different from brain proteins. People with this gene have a leaky blood-brain barrier,” Gandy explains. Additionally, APOE4 is supposed to make proteins that help transport cholesterol. Myelin, an insulating layer that allows nerve cells to communicate with each other, develops electrical properties. That requires a lot of cholesterol. The gene can “damage” how much cholesterol myelin takes up, Gandy says. A fourth connection is that the APOE4 gene stimulates inflammation.

But because the disease is so tied to your genetic makeup, Honig advises anyone like Hemsworth to get tested.

“What is he supposed to do with that information?” Honig said. “The answer is that he can’t do much with that information, since he doesn’t know if he will get the disease, and we don’t have a clear way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease at this point.”

Pettigrew agrees. Although he has seen estimates that say the risk is 10 times higher for patients who have two APOE4 alleles than those who don’t have them, “there’s nothing we can do at this point, that we know of, that will definitely stop or prevent dementia.”

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As for Hemsworth, Marvel stars thor Franchise, the news that she carried two APOE4 alleles was all the more shocking because her grandfather is currently living with the incurable disease.

“I’m not sure he actually remembers much anymore and he goes in and out of Dutch, which is his original language, so he’ll speak Dutch and English and then a mash-up and then maybe some new words too. “, said the 39-year-old Vanity Fair.

Hemsworth says the news, and the show in general, forced him to take a step back and take stock of his lifestyle. He now plans to finish his remaining contracts and “part of the time and simply take it easy.”

All told, doctors agree that positive lifestyle changes like a heart-healthy diet, exercise and regular social interaction can help someone avoid the ill effects of Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related illnesses, even when the risk seems high.

“Even if you can push it to 10 years, that’s a huge increase in the cognitive and functional time you have,” Pettigrew says.

Honig added that some drugs being worked on right now also offer some hope. One drug in particular shows that people with APOE4 may benefit more from its use.

“APOE4s — one or two — increase the amount of amyloid protein in the brain overall, but also in the blood vessels,” Honig said. does.”

There is hope, but until these drugs are more thoroughly researched and come to a wider market, “you’re stuck with your genes,” Honig says.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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