Older woman sit on bed coping with morning headache concept

Stressed older woman (© fizkes - stock.adobe.com)

LUND, Sweden — Alzheimer’s disease is infamous for its tendency to slowly develop over years and years. While that may be the case overall, a new study finds Alzheimer’s tends to progress faster in women than men. Researchers from Lund University report tau proteins, long associated with the disease, accumulate at higher rates in female brains.

Two proteins, tau and beta-amyloid, combine and accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. However, this process falters when the body doesn’t properly dispose of beta-amyloid. As far as scientists can tell, this stage develops at about the same rate in both men and women. In other words, early Alzheimer’s patients of both genders show about the same levels of beta-amyloid. In this early stage, patients usually don’t display outward signs of dementia.

Women are significantly more susceptible to buildups in the brain

As time goes by, though, memory issues are often the first problems to arise. When this starts, it’s a sign that tau proteins have begun to clump up in the brain, disrupting neurons. Women with Alzheimer’s generally experience greater memory loss than men dealing with dementia. Now, this new research shows women experience a “higher rate of tau accumulation.”

“Tau accumulation rates vary greatly between individuals of the same sex, but in the temporal lobe, which is affected in Alzheimer’s disease, we found a 75% higher accumulation rate in women as a group compared to men,” explains first study author Ruben Smith in a university release.

The findings that women see more tau buildup than men held up even after study authors considered factors like age and pre-existing tau levels. In all, the team examined 209 women and 210 men during this project.

“The next step would be to examine why this accumulation is faster in women,” adds co-researcher Sebastian Palmqvist.

“Our study strongly indicates that the faster spread of tau makes women more prone to develop dementia because of Alzheimer’s pathology compared to men. Future experimental studies will be important to understand the reasons behind this,” concludes Professor Oskar Hansson.

The study appears in the journal Brain.

About John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor